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Title: Knew you at all
Summary: Sarah Williams wants to be a wizard.
Author's Notes: Crossover between the movie Labyrinth and Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. Co-written between [livejournal.com profile] katarik and [livejournal.com profile] ilyena_sylph.
Word count: 4349


Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six




The multiple 'realities' in front of his eyes were giving Kit an even worse headache, and he'd learned a good little bit of time ago that just because he might not see something didn't in the slightest mean that it couldn't hurt him. His shins and forearms were going to be several colors of bruised, and this was painfully slow going, but...

Above him, the hazy outlines of buildings shuddered and... shattered, breaking in a silent fall of... something that he barely managed to avoid, and brought darkness and moonlight with it.

What the hell... that hadn't been him, which meant it was either Sarah or Neets. Two realities now, and a faint shimmer of an overlay that Kit couldn't see well enough to tell what it was. He picked his way gingerly through shattered plate glass, pushing harder at the world around him. The Labyrinth gave way more easily this time, like somebody else had been pushing, too, and now all Kit could see were low stone walls and the shadow of some kind of other world, the faint figures of two people outlined in a doorway ahead. Kit headed for them.

The more he focused, the sharper that third overlay became... but it was easier to move through once that solidness was there. He got closer, dodging around some of the walls, and his jaw set hard as he recognized both of the figures standing there. Nita he'd know anywhere, but that... //It wasn't supposed to be here!//

That made him run harder. He knew that sharp-featured danger standing within feet of his Nita, and damn it...

What was she doing just talking to It?

He saw her spin around, and... she could see him, if that yell and the sudden run were any clues. He picked his own pace up, yelling back for her -- and if this damn maze got in their way now, he was going to burn power, despite how much this place disliked wizardry, and give it something to chew on.

The Lone Power disappeared, and all he could see was Nita, barefoot and bleeding, dripping water on the shining stones of the floor as she ran towards him. He reached out, catching her around the waist under her bleeding arms, and pulled her in hard as she wrapped her arms around him. "You really reek," he muttered into her hair, her blood sticky on his arms.

"I know. That filthy water I was wading through... and probably the blood. And ..oh, ow, those hurt, now..."

"What were you doing; fighting with It?" Kit didn't think so, not from how easy she'd looked standing by It. How... comfortable. And he hadn't just thought that about his partner. There was no way he'd seen what he thought he had.

"...I have no idea what It thought It was doing, but It wouldn't go away once It found me. And I'd rather have had it bothering me than picking a fight with Sarah. I know how to deal with It better than she does."

"But you weren't fighting?" Kit asked, eying the cuts on Nita's arms. "Those aren't Its fault?"

Nita thought about that question for a minute. "... in a roundabout way, they are? It was the one that told me what was going on, but... I'm the one that shattered what the Labyrinth was holding me in -- it bit back."

"Yeah," Kit grumbled, stepping away enough to rub his temple, but keeping his other hand on her wrist, "It does that."

She pressed her shoulder against his chest for a moment, but nodded. "Okay, now that It's not standing there just waiting to laugh at me, want to help me try and get the glass out of these cuts, and some of it healed? -- yes, I'll do that part, if I can." Asking Kit to try to work a healing spell -- more than the most minor ones, at least -- was really not the best idea either of them had ever had. She'd do a better job if she just did it herself, especially when she wasn't entirely certain that either of them could get to their Manuals, or have them work for a complicated spelling, while they were in this weird half-dimension.

"I think I've got tweezers in my knapsack. Hang on a sec." Kit normally carried a modified toolset -- screwdrivers, wrenches, bits he'd borrowed from Carmela or Helena -- just in case he needed it. It got tucked into the pocket of folded space the manual occupied. Fishing out the tweezers didn't take long, and neither did handing them to Nita.

"Thanks, Kit," Nita said softly, not letting go of him. She was lucky none of the gashes were too deep, and knew it. That didn't mean that the smaller cuts didn't ache and sting enough to wreck her concentration and ability to cope with the Labyrinth's total weirdness.

"Welcome, Neets," Kit said back, equally quietly. Then he grinned, a wry, watery smile. "Told you I'd find you."

"Yeah... you did. And since It saw you before I did, I guess you were even right."

Kit still wasn't thinking about that. How calm she'd looked, staring at It, and how interested It had looked staring back. He focused on picking glass shards out of her hair instead.

While he worked on her hair, she worked on pulling all of the bits of glass out of her arms that she could reach, keeping the fingers of the arm she was working on tangled through one of the loops of his jeans. Once she thought she had them all out, she started working one of her basic healing spells, telling her body how it should be; whole, without those wounds all down her arms.... One of the blessings of self-healing, weak as it made her afterward, was that she wasn't going to have to suffer the pain of the wounds again to heal them.

Kit kept her upright while she worked, feeling this place leaning in on them and all the danger behind the way it pressed closer. Tom and Carl had been right. It didn't like wizardry, but at the moment it wasn't interfering. Good. Kit wasn't Dairine at her peak; he didn't have the kind of power it would take to hammer the Labyrinth into submission again.

She dropped her face on his shoulder once she was through healing herself, and just breathed through the shakes of doing that spell cold, in an environment that hated her working in it nearly as much as Other New York had. "Oh... ow. Better now, though. Are you okay?"

"Bruised up. Nothing big. We can deal with it once we're out of this place." He said it confidently -- between the two of them, Kit knew, there wasn't much they couldn't pull off. And if he was afraid, Nita didn't have to know that.

"Okay. Long as you're not cut up. Now... let's find the center of this place and get the heck out of here, huh?"

"I like this plan," Kit replied fervently. He liked listening to walls talk, but not like they had in this place.

"Me too. Am I the only one that kind of wishes Dair was here- - don't you dare ever tell her I said it!"

Kit snorted. "I wish we'd run this when she was still twelve. She'd get Spot to beam us right to the center. I'm even missing Carmela and her hair-dryer gun," he added.

Nita laughed, catching hold of his hand, then shook her head. "Yeah... me, too. C'mon, let's go."

Kit started running with her, racing out of that shining room, leaving nothing behind but Nita's blood and foul saltwater. Behind them, a tall red-haired young man stepped out of the shadows, scowling, to watch them go.

***

She'd made her way through some familiar pieces of the Labyrinth with the crystal moon raising higher by the moment, and she wasn't stopping again. Sarah kept her eyes on the horizon, dodging half-seen obstacles before they got in her way, willing the path to stay straight and take her to the goblin city and the peaks of the castle. She had no idea how much time was left, but she refused to consider the possibility that it might not be enough. The moon was shining brightly enough to see by, which surprised her a little. She hoped, in the corner of her mind that wasn't aiming straight at the city, that Kit and Nita were close by. She wasn't sure she could run the Labyrinth again for them, at least not immediately, if they weren't. Her breath was already coming hard, sawing through her lungs, and the dust that came up as she ran had her eyes tearing.

The junk heaps themselves, of course, still moved in their slow, shambling gaits, the goblins hunched under them mumbling to themselves as they picked up more and more trash -- treasure, she knew, to them--and a flash up near the top of one tried to catch her attention. Sarah ignored it. Unless the flash was Kit or Nita, or something that needed her help, she didn't have time to care. The bar of the baby carriage flashed again in the moonlight, atop its pile, but she ran past unnoticing.

Sarah kept running, her feet pounding on the ground as she moved. She tripped, falling, but she twisted as she fell so that her eyes remained on the city, locking it in place, willing it to stay where she could see it. She scrambled to her feet awkwardly, still watching the stone city, and started running again.

She had half-expected a heap to fall on her, or a pit to block her path, but the road ran straight until she reached the gates. Which slammed shut as she approached.

Sarah took ten seconds to pant, her sides aching and her lungs pumping, before she straightened slowly, wincing, and ordering herself to start taking more runs with Merlin. If she would have to be doing this again, Sarah wanted her stamina upped.

She glared at the gates, noting that their design was different this time, and wondered what would function as their guardian. She stepped forward anyway, hearing the 'snick' of blades behind her that meant she went forward or she died spitted at the entrance.

No metal giant this time, just wooden panels drawing apart to reveal hundreds of crude arrowheads, spanning the entirety of the massive gates to the goblin city. Sarah did not give in to the urge to start saying every vile thing a childhood in public school had taught her. She stared at the arrows, noting their shape. Crossbow bolts, she decided, and carefully began edging sideways. If they fired, they fired, and she was no more dead than she would have been if she had stepped forward. She did not have time to plan, and she was alone. No Hoggle would come along this time.

It probably took five minutes to reach the edge of the gates. Sarah had hardly dared breathe as she moved, but when she reached the edge of the doors, the end of the arrows, she inhaled a deep, slow breath, let it out evenly, and took a large step forward.

As the arrows fired, Sarah threw herself sideways, out of their path, wincing as a few bolts grazed her and hissing when she landed hard on the dirt. She saw, glancing up, that there were no more bolts in the doors, and she rose. She took measured, quick steps to the gates, noting the mechanism of strings and bolts that had triggered the arrows, as Sarah placed her hands on the wood and said, "Open," very firmly, in the Speech.

It was not a request.

The gates swung open -- sullen and creaking, but they opened.

Sarah walked into the goblin city, moving straight for the castle at its heart.

***

It was easier to move, it seemed, in this Labyrinth that sparkled and shimmered around its edges like cut crystal, Nita noticed as she and Kit pelted down the corridors. While the shining walls were more animate, they seemed... less inclined to get in the way of the running pair, and they made fast progress towards what certainly seemed like the center of the Labyrinth. It wasn't long before they came out of all the shining walls into a garden that stood with perfectly pruned box-hedges and thick, lush grass... . but above it, still, they could see the spires of the Castle ahead of them, throwing back the moonlight.

"Normally," Nita said quietly, "You can solve a hedge-maze by sticking to either the left wall or the right, and never taking a turn that the wall doesn't bend with. I'm not real inclined to trust that, here."

"I'm not real inclined to trust anything here," Kit muttered. "Can we ask?"

"The day I can't talk to a box hedge," Nita said, her voice a little shaded with exasperation and amusement, "is the day you can't get a car to talk to you."

Kit snorted back at her. "So get with asking, Neets..."

Nita smacked his shoulder lightly, walking forward to the closest hedge. Her voice was gentle, friendly. "Do you know the way to the castle beyond the goblin city?" It was a formulaic question, but Nita was getting the idea that this placed, for all its free-spirited moving, was very set in its ways.

[Beyond us, we do not know,] the hedges told her in quick leafrustles and waving of branches. [We do not know the ways of stone. You are on the right way, you have found us.]

"Do you know the way through you?"

[Of course!] the hedges were mightily insulted by the question, and their leaves flickered huffily.

Nita grinned, but her voice remained calm. "Will you tell me?"

[Left, left, and left again,] the hedges answered her, waving their leaves. [We will show you, because you ask...]

"Left, left, and left again," Nita told Kit quickly before going back to the hedges. "Thank you so much," she murmured to them gratefully.

[You are welcome,] the hedges told her. [To the stone, speak? It crowds our roots,]

"I will," Nita promised.

[We will show.] The hedges said again, rustling gratefully.

Kit looked at her, "You will what?"

"Talk to the rock and get it to move. The plants are too crowded." Nita frowned idly; they didn't look as happy as they ought to. Their leaves were a little paler than she'd like -- yeah, she wanted more space for them. More water wouldn't hurt, either. She couldn't do anything about the water, but she and Kit could do something about the rock they were rooting right above..

"Guess that's my part," Kit said and dropped down, laying his free hand spread out on the ground, felt the rock just under the earth, and said to it quietly, "Hey there," in the Speech. "How're you?"

The rocks' reply came slowly, warm with the sun's leftover heat from hours earlier and calm with the patience of stone. [We are well. We serve our purpose.]

"Yes you do," Kit agreed, appreciating their solid stability for long moments. "Do you know that you're crowding the roots of these hedges?"

[They chose their place,] the rocks answered, indignation obvious even in the slow, stolid response of stone. [They walked in, pushed us aside, settled here. We were comfortable where we were.]

Kit sighed, and looked up at Nita with a wince. "We've got a problem here. The rocks say they were fine until the hedges walked in and pushed roots down." Settling disputes like this one could take days, if not weeks, and that was time they absolutely didn't have. Not with that strange, almost crystalline moon standing well above the Labyrinth's horizon...

Nita swore under her breath. They had to go -- she didn't know how much time was remaining, but it wasn't much. But she'd promised the hedges. She sighed, and turned to the Speech again, saying to the hedges quietly, "The rocks say that you pushed yourselves into this place. They do not want to move more." She let her voice trail off on the last, waiting for the plants to respond.

[That is what we do!] the hedges clamored shrilly. [We move, rearrange ourselves, reshape the world. It is our function!]

"Even I heard that," Kit sighed, looking up at his partner as she rubbed her temples, trying to ease the tension the chattering of the plants was giving her. "Neets... we can't fix this. We don't have time."

"I promised," she said softly, hands on her hips as she glared down at the ground as if it would bend just to her temper.

"I know," he answered her, almost helplessly, looking up his arm at her over their linked hands. "But you have a hard time dealing with stone, and at least one of us has got to make it through here. I don't trust the bad pop-star copy to let anyone else try and get either of us out."

"I'm better with plants. I might be able to persuade the hedges to move. Besides, the next maze is stone, if the rocks were right." Nita looked down at him, heaving a sigh. "One of us has got to make it through here."

"You're the one that got us in this part of it. I don't know if that visualization will hold if we separate, Neets." He took a quick breath, and shook his head. He wasn't willing to deal with the Labyrinth re-shaping again, let alone the rest of the tricks it might play on them if he left Nita alone again. "Okay. Let's give this the quickest shot we've got. You get the plants to see if they'll ease up their roots any, and I'll try and convince the rocks to open up a little more."

She didn't bother to answer Kit. Her agreement came as she talked. "I know you're only doing what you're meant to," Nita said to the hedges, their leaves stretching closer to her as she spoke. "The rocks are only doing what they're meant to, too. Is there any way that you can move a little, spread back out?" Ornamental hedges generally preferred staying in their set shapes, Nita knew, but it was the Labyrinth. They rearranged themselves all the time. And she didn't want to separate from Kit to fix this.

The hedges were silent for long moments, rustling among themselves in some silent, Speech-less communication... but they answered. [We do not wish to. We are in our proper shapes, and we must root deep to grow strong.] After saying that, though, they considered, and finally said grudgingly, unwillingly. [We have done it before. We can... root not quite so deep.]

While Nita dealt with the plants, Kit spoke to the stone again. "I know having yourselves torn up isn't much fun. And I know you were here first, and you were doing just fine at your job. But would you open up a little more if the hedges didn't take advantage to go any deeper?"

It took a little more time than Kit would have liked, but he received a response after a while. [... If they took no advantage,] the rocks said finally, [we would move. If we move, and they root deeper, we will crush their roots.]

"Thank you," Kit told them in the Speech, very gratefully. It wasn't often that rock decided to be quite this cooperative, but he wasn't about to complain that it had. "Neets, they'll open up a little if the plants don't try and shove down more. They say they'll crush roots if the plants do."

"The plants say they can root a little less deeply," Nita replied, just as hopeful at this turn of events from the hedges. "I... don't think I'll mention that last part; these hedges seem like they'd root deeper just to dare the rocks to try it." She turned and spoke to the plants again, giving them the word that the rock would concede a little bit more space for their roots. The hedges rustled, cheering, and began shifting around, changing their roots.

"...You're probably right," Kit agreed, glancing at them sidelong. "If they're loud enough for me to hear, they've definitely got personality, and not a real good one, either. I think we might have this at least under control enough to honor your word, Neets. You didn't promise them a solution, you said we'd talk to the rocks."

"Yeah," Nita replied, casting a last, wary look at the casually uprooting hedges. "Left, left, left again. Let's go."

They started running, and true to their word, the hedges helpfully whispered directions in rustling leaves as the pair went through them. They finally spilled out onto a rocky surface, and Kit froze, looking from place to place. Everywhere he looked, there were slowly ambling... people, though people with heavy burdens loaded onto their backs. Wearing fantastic masks and robed in bright costumes, they were hunched under the weight of the loads that glittered and flashed with light, but even with their burdens, they never seemed to run into each other. A way through was going to be hard to find, but...

"So much for stone," he muttered, looking up at the spires of the castle beyond the maze.

"Stone floor?" Nita guessed, shrugging a shoulder. "Or maybe they were talking about the city. You know how plants can be. Kit, have you got any better idea than I do about what's up with these people?"

"Nope," Kit said grimly, his shoulders set in lines she knew very well. "And frankly I don't care if they're goblins or Powers as long as I can get through them."

"I should've guessed you'd say that," Nita replied, relieved amusement washing up through her at that familiar, solid determination, and she didn't have to say a word as she started moving -- Kit wasn't a microsecond behind her.

As they wound their way through the people -- who seemed to only half see them -- Kit started to think that they looked kind of familiar. Every one of them that came close, the piles caught his attention. Baby dolls, toy trains, bits of furniture, shining streams of bright garland, battered books... "Neets. Do those piles look like the Eldest's to you at all?"

"Random shiny junk all mixed up with treasure?" Nita asked, glancing at the piles. "Now that you mention it, yes."

"Weird. Still no idea what's up with them, but at least now I get why they do look a little bit familiar." Kit didn't much want to spend more time thinking about it, but placing the reference his mind was trying to give him was always a good thing. You never knew when it might come in handy.

Nita nodded as she shrugged a shoulder. "Maybe they're just strange goblins. At least they're not actively getting in the way."

Kit didn't bother to agree with her in words. He was pretty sure he didn't have to, and besides, he was busy trying to get her out of the way of one of the wandering piles of sparkly junk that had suddenly decided to come towards them. It was easy enough to dodge, slow-moving as it was, and the city walls weren't much farther away.

Nita carefully didn't think that it couldn't stay this easy. This was the Labyrinth. If she had a thought like that, she'd make it true. As usual, her partner's thoughts were running right alongside hers as they made it through the last of the whatever-those-were and reached the city walls.

"... I guess Sarah made it through," Nita said, laughing under her breath at the hundreds -- were those thousands? -- of arrowheads in the piled heaps of stuff the closest masked people were carrying, and in the ground, and -- wow. "Seems like overkill."

"That might be the wrong word to use," Kit mentioned idly, looking at all of the arrowheads, and grateful he didn't have his hearing of the Speech attuned to metal right now. He didn't think that goblin arrows were all that likely to have anything nice to say, and that many of them would probably be really loud. "The gates are shut... so even though I don't see anything that looks like she got hurt..."

"We're wizards, Kit," Nita replied, an odd triumph bubbling through her voice as she walked forward, noting the lack of further arrows. "Why not ask it to open? Besides, can you see this place not leaving some sign she'd been hurt? It likes scaring us."

"Because it's starting to load more bolts is a reason to ask it quick," Kit said, running the last words together. His sharp eyes had seen the outer edges of the gates re-loading as he followed his partner up close to it, which was more than enough to make him run all but the last few syllables of his preferred shield up into his mind. He wasn't as good with shield spells as Nita was, but with metal things...

Nita wasn't actually in much of a mood to ask, but she couldn't simply demand it to open. "Will you open, please?" she asked the door, her voice quietly calm even as she eyed the reloading arrows.

It was long moments before the gates answered by swinging open, a disturbed, relieved [Thank you for asking...] in the long creak of the chains. Kit could hear the complaints of the crossbow bolts, but they stayed put.

"Anytime," Nita murmured to the old wood and steel as she and Kit ran through.

***

Date: 2009-01-26 10:32 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Nate Ford sitting on a bench, Sophie Devereaux resting against his lap (Default)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
You did build an interesting story here.

Date: 2009-01-27 07:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
Glad it's staying intriguing thus far.

Date: 2009-02-08 05:43 pm (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (world falls down)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
And I fail at returning comments, sorry love. Thank you!

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