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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: 6525

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven



Sarah slipped through back roads and alleys, always heading towards the castle. Last time she had gone straight through, a conquering heroine. Sarah didn't want that fight this time; it had cost her time, and she had no allies. Sarah wanted surprise on her side, if that was possible in Jareth's realm. She could hear the tromping strides of the goblin guards in the main part of the city, the horns blowing and the baying of the most doglike of the goblins, the heavy tread of the goblin riding-beasts... but they were not in the narrow alleys where she slipped through shadows when she could. Jareth probably knew she was in the city. Whether he knew exactly where she was... Sarah was unsure, but she took every moment she was uninterrupted as a gift. She knew she didn't have much time.

Not much time at all, and she had to stop, squeeze into a doorframe and hide as a goblin raced from one dingy shop to the next, waving a torch that threw red light in guttering waves and yelling something incoherent about "she's coming!" She hid for another moment, two, then raced across that street and hid a moment, two, then raced across that street and hid herself away again, making her way up until she reached the castle's foundations. //Thank God it didn't put in a moat,// she thought to herself as she apologized to her still-aching side and ran across the open space to the castle doors.

These weren't open, either, and when Sarah placed her hands on them and hissed, "Open!" they remained shut, even when she pushed. Sarah snarled. She was not going to be held back, not when she was here at the castle doors -- wait. One door had opened because she had asked. What would it hurt to try? "Please open."

The doors groaned and protested, but she had asked... and their purpose was to be doors, not barriers -- they swung open.

"Thank you!" Sarah said breathlessly, running into the castle. Throne room, throne room -- there! Through there, and up.

She was almost up the flight of stairs to the throne room when she heard the first, dark bong of the thirteen hour clock. Sarah didn't scream denials, or throw herself down sobbing. She just ran faster, because she might beat the thirteenth strike and she couldn't not try. The second, third, fourth, fifth strikes struck before she reached the top of the stairs. Strikes six, seven, and eight rang through the castle stones and her bones as she went across the flagstones of the throne room's antechamber in quick, hard strides, and she hit the open doorway on strike ten. The throne room stood empty -- and how could she have forgotten that Jareth never made things simple? That she had had to find Toby, even once she had made it to the castle...

That room, the one that had meant Sarah still couldn't walk past Escher prints without shuddering... she spotted another stairway a few feet away and ran for it, almost falling up the stairs on strike eleven.

She scrambled her way up the stairs, the stitch in her side screaming as she did, but she made it halfway up the short flight of stairs before the twelth strike hit. Then up the last steps and into a different room than the one she had seen before, but still all staircases and gravities warped and twisted around themselves... and the clock struck thirteen before she could lay eyes on Aaron, let alone make the leap to reach him.

She saw Jareth in the next moment, but not Aaron, and the look on Jareth's face -- was that regret? -- had Sarah closing her eyes so she didn't have to look at it anymore, pressing her hand to her aching side and crumpling to lean against the doorway. "Not a piece of cake this time," she got out through gritted teeth, and did not let herself cry again.

"No," he agreed, low and quiet, and she didn't understand the tone in his voice at all. It sounded like his face had looked, and that made no sense. He wasn't gloating, taunting her with her failure, and it made no sense for him to be so... kind. He had been that way all this time, he had never come to taunt her or get in her way, and she still didn't understand why.

Sarah didn't answer, waiting until she could breathe without choking on it, but her voice was still uneven when she finally said, "You gave me a fair chance this time."

"You didn't give me a reason not to," he replied, watching her face and the way she panted, leaning -- collapsed, really, half-kneeling -- against the doorframe, pain written all over her body again...

Her laugh was strangled, and Sarah turned her head away from Jareth's voice to hide her expression behind her hair. "I guess not.

"Are Nita and Kit all right?" She'd lost Aaron, but surely they had made it. She wasn't sure what she could do if they hadn't. There was no way she could make it through the Labyrinth again. Not now.

Jareth twisted his hand, and glanced into a crystal for a moment before glancing back at her as though whatever he had seen was irrelevant. "They're giving some of my goblins a headache, chasing them around the city. I really should let them know to stop."

"Since the time limit's up." Her voice was quiet, flatly dull.

"Since it's over, yes," he agreed, his expression going vacant for a few moments. A bell hidden somewhere in the castle began to peal a specific pattern, and his eyes focused on her again. "There."

Sarah nodded, struggling to her feet and keeping one hand pressed to her side. It didn't hurt the way it had while she was running, but it still throbbed, and the ache of it at least kept Sarah distracted from her failure. "I'll get out of your way. -- Jareth?"

"Yes?" he asked, tipping his head to the side, watching her. She was taking this entirely too well. It worried him. Sarah was many, many things, but calm in the face of loss, a loss she'd wept over before she even won the chance.... was not one of them. He took a few steps towards her, then stopped. He wasn't certain enough of her reaction to move that close to her, even as it shredded him to see her in that kind of pain.

"You didn't have to let me run. And you didn't have to not interfere. Thanks." She looked up at him then, and tried to smile.

"When have I denied you what you asked of me, if it was in my power to grant it?" he asked with a slow shrug of one green-clad shoulder.

She smirked a little, standing straight despite how much she hurt. "Is this you being generous?"

"Would you believe me if I said yes?" he asked, watching her.

"... This time? Probably." He had been being generous, to let her run at all, even if she had lost. Her defeat hadn't been his fault -- she was the one who had failed. He hadn't even thrown anything special in her way.

He studied her for long moments, looking at the careful perfection of her posture and the ache in her eyes -- and smiled a little more, eyes lit with her response even though he despised seeing her in such pain. She did recognize that he had been, when he could. "I had no other reason."

"... I know."

He smiled at her again, a little wider. "Sometimes you do listen," he said, then turned to look towards the doorway, where a trio of goblins were escorting two very wary, very unhappy wizards in.

"I wasn't fast enough," Sarah told Kit and Nita dully, looking over her shoulder as they came in. "I appreciate your help."

Neither of them were used to losing, and Kit and Nita looked at each other blankly for long moments before one of them -- Kit, actually -- asked, "You lost?"

He sounded like he couldn't, quite, believe it.

Sarah nodded once, abruptly.

Nita's eyes shut, then opened, and she left Kit's side -- let go of his hand -- to walk across the floor towards Sarah, offering her a hand, and shoulder, in quiet sympathy. Sarah glanced at the goblins over Nita's shoulder, and she lifted her head proudly. She was not going to break down in front of goblins. She'd lost, but Sarah still had her pride.

"Go," Jareth said, not quietly, to the goblin trio, adding a flick of his black-gloved hand for emphasis when the goblins paused.

It took ten seconds after the goblins left for Sarah's face to crumple as she started shaking, hiding her face in her hair and Nita's shoulder. She didn't cry, not yet, just shook, and her breath caught painfully in her lungs.

Nita just wrapped her arms around her carefully and held her, giving her the comfort of another's touch while she shook with grief. She knew this -- she'd lost, once, even if it had turned out... She still couldn't say for the best, because best was something very different, but it had turned out -- all right. She might not understand all of Sarah's reasons, but she recognized the wracking grief lurking under those tiny, silent shakes.

Jareth glared as that wizard female wrapped her arms around Sarah, and walked closer, stepping up behind her and off to one side. That was not her place...

When Sarah started crying with those quiet, choked-off, desperate sobs, she wrenched herself away from Nita to sink down against the wall, resting her head on the stone while she wept. Nita started to follow, but a pale-haired and green/black clad shape cut between them and Jareth was there, crouched down on the flagstones mere inches in front of her, laying his hands on her shoulders.

This... this was far more what he'd been expecting, and anything, even her still-painful tears, was better than that awful stillness from earlier. He rested his hands there on her shoulders and waited, hoping that she wouldn't push him away.

"Ja -- " Sarah started to say his name, ask what he was doing, but a fresh sob tore through her words and she simply curled in tighter on herself; the painful, wracking tears eventually beginning to ease into the kind of tears that Nita, watching, would call healing and Kit would call necessary.

He stroked one of her shoulders gently, his other hand just resting on her, light and careful as he stayed crouched in front of her, trying to wait out the tears.

Sarah wasn't sure how long she'd been crying, but Jareth hadn't moved, and he wasn't moving even through her hiccuping attempts at breathing. Why hadn't he moved, she wondered with a tiny bit of her mind.

//She can shove me away if she feels like it,// Jareth decided, and he slid his hands down and behind her back, pulling her into his body.

Sarah pressed gratefully into the warmth of his body, muffling her shaky breathing and the last remnants of her sobs. She was exhausted, her system presenting her with the bill of her run, and she just wanted everything to stop. How could she have expected to win? Really? She had succeeded last time because of Didymus, Hoggle, Ludo -- this time, with only herself, of course she had failed. A wizard with no real wizardry, and who hadn't passed even an easy Ordeal. How could she be a wizard now?

His arms tightened around her in relief as she pressed into him again, and he stroked his hand caressingly down her hair, trying to comfort her. "Shhh...." he whispered quietly.

Her thoughts of despair, of failure, echoed and re-echoed in her head, and Sarah tensed in Jareth's hold.

"What?" he whispered to her quietly, trying to understand what was wrong. Had she decided to push him away, now? After her tears had finally began to stop? Why?

It would have been easier, she realized dully, if those thoughts had come to her in another voice, but they hadn't. They had come to her in her voice, in her words, and Sarah smiled, faintly and with a hard edge to it, against the skin of Jareth's throat. //Well done,// she thought. It would have been so easy to believe the words in her mind. Sarah, at fourteen, had believed herself unique, the sort of girl too special to look after a screaming baby, the sort of girl who would have had the Goblin King fall in love with her. After the Labyrinth, Sarah had tried to erase that hubris. What she had not done was attempt to erase her own self-worth.

She did not give up. Ever. The only thing in this Labyrinth that would be trying to persuade her to was the One she had half-convinced herself she wouldn't meet. But if It was going to try and turn her from her wizardry...

Her own voice whispered in the back of her mind again, Do you think so? Would It truly bother with someone that couldn't even pass such a simple test?

You bother with everything, sooner or later, Sarah replied silently. Fairest and Fallen, greeting and defiance.

She had lost to Jareth. She would not lose to It. Not now, not ever.

Greetings, her voice replied softly, with all of her own darkness wrapped around and through it. In that moment, she heard the times she had derided her stepmother, turned her eyes from her fellow students' turmoil to salve her own pride, lashed out at her father in her pain.

Sarah had known her own careless cruelty when she had confronted it in Jareth's face, and the uselessness of her pride in his ballroom, and the damage her unknowing, petty anger could do in the silence where her brother should have been screaming. She did not flinch from Its use of her voice.

Oh... very good. Her own voice laughed at her from the dark corners of her mind. So strong-willed, so sure that you know My ways and can master them in yourself...

The arrogance.

This time, Sarah did flinch, stung, pressing her face harder against Jareth's throat, his shoulder, shuddering in a breath scented with her own tears and Jareth's hair.

What? her voice asked lightly, a quietly gentle mockery in it -- her own tones with Karen about Toby, and to one of her classmates about her slim little book of new and poorly-written poems, and she had been so proud of herself then for the look of shocked pain in Karen's face and the tears in her classmate's eyes. Dislike the taste of that truth?

Yes, Sarah admitted simply. She much preferred having heard Jareth throw her own selfishness in her face, though she had not understood him until later.

You and I aren't that far apart, that voice said, soft and silken tones that made her toss her head, rejecting the idea that she could be anything like that One... She wasn't... she didn't...

Aren't you? Always so sure you're right... the silky slide of her voice, Its voice, honey-sweet, still all she could hear. Who does that sound like, now?

Jareth, she said, and hid the raw sound of her own choked laugh in his skin. Taking things for granted, aren't You?

What would I have to take for granted? It asked, and she could almost feel that particular cock of her head, the (so patiently) curious expression she'd spent hours perfecting to use when someone just didn't understand her and she couldn't imagine why, because it wasn't as though she were saying anything complicated.

I've had this. I've been through this. This is what the Labyrinth is for... and that's what I'm taking for granted. That I've already learned everything it can teach me. Isn't it?

Oh. Soooo bright, It laughed. So sure you can figure it all out, that if you just know the right rules you can change anything... that's all in your hands, now. The very rules to the universe will be in your hands. Do you want to know what you could do with them?

A piece of her said, Yes. That was a piece of her that Sarah did not like, the portion that had raced ahead believing that words were only words. She had no business thinking anything like that, now that she had met Jareth. Now that she was a wizard. But what had been said had been said, and the answer flooded in.

In her mind, that staple-bound paperback spread open, words that looked like Arabic to the casual eye, all of the things she could do about the mess the world was in hinted at in those words she was still learning to use, and It was quiet.

Sarah read, though she did not say anything. She found spells to urge generosity, spells that would have made Melissa keep her son, spells to force charity and goodwill towards men, spells to punish selfishness, and spells to punish murder and rape, as spells to prevent despair wrote themselves in the back of her mind... so much that needed doing, and, if she had more power, so much she could do.

It was Jareth's voice that echoed inside the quiet corridors of her mind now, asking /when have I denied you what was in my power to grant?/

But she couldn't interfere with the Labyrinth -- she hadn't been able to prove her right to run (why had he let her?). How much less could she prove her right to such powerful psychotropic spells? She didn't even have the power it would take to make them work.

You could... all it would take is the right price... It whispered. Or the right ally...

No! Sarah's reply was fervent enough that she said it aloud, as well, and she felt Jareth tense under her -- her fists clenched in his clothes, keeping him there. She needed him here to remind her what an arrogant child she'd been -- what, in some ways, an arrogant child she still was.

No? Isn't that what you wanted? A way to make things right? Her own mental voice, in Its use, nearly throbbed with the sincerity of that wish.

Not with you. I don't want that with you, and I can't do it like this. Wizardry doesn't work this way.

Mmm... we'll see... It murmured quietly.

She wasn't tempted. She wasn't, and Sarah clutched Jareth tighter when she realized that the thought was incomplete: she wasn't tempted yet.

How did real wizards live like this, with It in their heads all the time? They knew, Sarah was sure. Wizards had to know that It was always there. How did they deal with it?

Nothing but her own fear answered her, now.

It was still there. But she didn't think It was actively there... just lurking. Waiting for her to slip up, slip back into believing she had the right to run the Labyrinth for someone else's child. Sarah exhaled, the gust of her breath stirring Jareth's hair, and let him go.

"Sarah?" he tried to catch her eyes with his, wanting some kind of explanation for the battle he'd felt raging under her skin when bare moments before she'd been exhausted enough to fall against his chest, unable to even cry any more. What had happened to her, here in his realm?

"I'm all right," she said quietly, but she didn't move. Her head ached and her throat was sore. She'd cried herself dry, then fought a war in her own mind, and right now Sarah just wanted to sleep.

"Are you?" he asked, hand still stroking over her hair, not believing her.

"... I think so." Her voice was hoarse, and her eyes hurt, so she closed them again, drifting.

"You're exhausted," Jareth told her quietly, feeling it written all through her again in the limpness of her body on his.

Sarah barely managed a quiet laugh. "What was your first clue? Hey, Kit."

The light pressure of a hand down the length of her spine was apparently supposed to be an answer to her question, as Jareth said nothing in reply.

"Hey, Sarah. You... okay over there?"

"I'm fine. I think I might have won this time." For now.

"...always the hardest fights," Nita said softly, and a dark expression slid across her features for a few moments before she shook it away and smiled over. "The ones where the fight's inside, I mean."

"... How do you stand it?"

"You kick Its ass every chance you get," Kit replied, his dark eyes snapping determined fire. "It might be there, but that doesn't mean you have to listen."

Sarah half-lifted her head, shifting enough to grin at him over Jareth's shoulder. "I'll keep that in mind." She wondered how many times the Lone One had seen that sheer stubbornness on their faces. If It had learned to be afraid yet.

He grinned back at her. "Good. Do. Now can you talk to your perch there about getting us home?"

"Last time I had to win to do it. Ask him yourself. He won't bite," Sarah added after a moment.

Jareth snorted darkly, his hand still tracing over her hair gently. "Well, not them, certainly. My conditions have been met," he said, and looked towards one of the doorways hanging half in midair, steps running to it at a bizarre angle. Bright sunlight spilled out of it, breeze blowing into the room with the scent of a fresh summer wind in it.

"Jareth... " Sarah said softly, exasperation and a hint of amusement in her tired voice at his behavior.

"Yes?" he asked, light, cheerful amusement in his question.

"Stop teasing my friends."

He shifted to look down at her, one inhuman brow arched curiously. "The door is right there. How am I teasing?"

"This is why I wanted to slap you when I was trying to run this part last time. Make it a real door," Sarah said sleepily, making an absent gesture in the door's direction.

"Oh, fine," he replied and waved a hand at the door he'd chosen and the door behind the pair of wizards, shifting where it had opened to somewhere more convenient for them. "There. Is that better?"

She lifted her head again, glancing at the new door calmly on the ground. "Thank you," she murmured, and dropped her head back to his shoulder tiredly.

"Why do I put up with you?" he looked up, as if asking the air, while Kit and Nita studied the doorway spilling sunlight and wind behind them warily.

"Because I listen," Sarah told him, lifting her head again. "It's a real door, Nita. He said you two would go home if you weren't in the Labyrinth proper past the time limit, he can't break his own rules. Ask him in the Speech, if you want."

"What about you?" Nita asked her, standing there with her weight balanced out evenly, watching the Goblin King kneeling on his floor with uneasy eyes.

Sarah blinked at her. "The runner always goes home, win or lose."

"She," Jareth said calmly, "will go home when she's ready. Your parts here are through, however."

Nita's mouth set, but Kit grabbed her shoulder. "Neets, I know how much of a pain you are when you're sleepy. Let's head home, okay? If she needs us, she'll holler -- she's still got her manual."

"I do," Sarah agreed, patting the backpack still slung over her shoulder in reassurance.

Nita glanced at her, then at Jareth, then finally nodded and walked through the doorway with Kit. Once they had gone through it winked out of existence with a quiet ring, like the tone of a bell.

Jareth shifted, lifting her up into his arms as he stood casually, and he walked through another doorway and into a light, airy moon-kissed bedroom that couldn't have looked less like hers if it tried. Sarah had yelped as she was shifted, the world moving dizzyingly around her, but she was too sleepy to protest much when Jareth laid her on the bed.

"I thought I was going home?" she asked, tilting her head up to look at him, wondering why she wasn't more angry at his presumption.

"Do you want to explain why you're so exhausted?" he asked, arching a brow curiously.

"I did just spend thirteen hours running around in your pet maze," she reminded him, regretting that he'd slid her backpack and its bottles of water to the floor -- which was entirely too far away.

"Not to me, Sarah. To your stepmother. Or father."

"Or Toby, or Merlin," she admitted. He had a point. She still wanted her water bottles.

"What?" he asked, wondering what that line between her brows was about. She was agreeing with him, why was she frowning?

"Nothing. I'm thirsty, that's all." Crying always left her thirsty, and with a throbbing headache. She wasn't fond of either fact, especially right now.

Jareth located her backpack where he'd dropped it, and a few moments later he pressed one of the half-full bottles into her hand, dropping the bag back on the floor.

Sarah smiled at him, struggling up against a pillow to open the bottle and gulp the water down, tilting her head back as she swallowed.

He watched the long, pale line of her working throat, looked at the way her hair fell back, the sharp line of the shape of her jaw and the dark arches of her black lashes against reddened, tear-stained cheeks... she had dropped the bottle to the floor and glanced back up before he could try to look away from her.

Sarah had meant to look at him and make a joke. Something. She couldn't say a word, looking at him looking at her.

She was not stupid. She was sixteen, she was pretty, and she knew she was. The fact that she had not had a boyfriend did not mean she didn't understand what it meant when someone was looking at her with a capital L. She'd seen it more than enough.

She hoped, very much, that her cheeks were red enough from crying that Jareth didn't know she was blushing. She doubted just as much that she could possibly be that lucky.

He looked at her for long moments, then his lips quirked in a small, teasing smile. "Listening yet?"

Sarah opened her mouth, then shut it again, shaking her head disbelievingly as understanding crashed through her -- incomprehension right behind it. "That was part of the story, I was -- I am going to sleep."

Jareth smiled slowly, casually, and did not move. "Go to sleep, then, Sarah."

She glared at him for a moment, then ostentatiously toed her shoes off before rolling over and closing her eyes as she burrowed into the sheets. Jareth, Sarah wanted to make clear, was not even in the room. She was sleeping.

The fact that her heart was racing was completely beside the point.

Jareth kept his chuckle to himself as she settled so very theatrically, and watched her, wondering if she would really go to sleep, or not. If she did, he might leave...

She remained still, taking carefully deep breaths, and as the adrenaline drained from her system her breathing slowed to a more natural rhythm, her body loosening as she drifted off.

Once she was safely asleep, Jareth just stood there, watching her sleep sprawled out in the pale bed... she was so trusting, this time. Though he did wonder why, he would not complain of it. She was even lovelier now than she had been when he'd first seen her, barely more than a child. Not nearly so much a child now, he thought, looking at the fine bones of her face and the long, straight fall of her dark hair, the long curve of her waist and hip under the fall of the blanket...

It was a long while before he could force himself to leave.

***

When he could tear himself away from Sarah's trust, her vulnerability, he vanished.

He reappeared a few floors lower, back inside the Escher room, and picked up the baby that was already showing the signs of the change. His ears and nose were extending, skin darkening into more goblin shades... at least if he looked at Aaron through eyes that saw the mortal conception of goblins. If he looked at the other levels, there was little change, just the hints of the mask that would grow. "Come now, little goblin babe," he said quietly. "There are so many people for you to meet."

Would Sarah weep if she saw the child now? He was unsure. She had seemed to accept the defeat with better grace than she might have, but she had been so hurt by the thought of leaving the boy in his castle.... he shook his head, trying to push the thought away. It was not as though it mattered if she would weep. Before long, there would be no way to tell this goblin babe from any of the others, especially not once he could hand him off to one of the goblin females that enjoyed raising the little ones. He tucked him closer in against his chest, and stepped through one of the doorways and into his throne room -- which was packed with goblins all come to learn what had happened, if they had lost another babe to Sarah.

"The babe, the King has the babe!" old Hara cried, clutching her white hair as her leathery face creased into a huge smile. The others all roared with glee, and he laughed with them, spinning around with Aaron -- they would have to find him a new name -- held out from his body.

More of his goblins joined him in the spinning, bounding around him in fits of glee. Even lack-witted Bumpo was cheering as he sang, "babe with the power" -- as usual, painfully off-key. He tossed the babe out of his hands, watching as his Guard Captain caught him easily and began to dance around. This called for a new song, and he started whistling to himself, working out the words to the tune that had sprung to mind as more of his goblins poured into the Throne Room to celebrate the new babe.

This was a part of the Labyrinth no human had ever seen -- how much his people rejoiced at new additions. Aaron, whatever his new name turned out to be, would be well-treated as the newest babe among the goblins.

Even as he watched them celebrating, he saw one of the younger goblin girls slip between Hara and the Captain and steal the baby away, cooing to him as she danced her way towards the throne, a familiar look on her face. Even before she spoke, he knew what she would ask, and he was entirely willing to give her the baby. It was always better when one of them decided on their own to raise a new thrown-away child, instead of him decreeing which of them would.

He expected the party to rage through the night, and he whispered instructions to the castle to make sure that it did not wake Sarah where she slept.

***

When the doorway disappeared behind them and they were standing in the very mortal park again, Nita shook off Kit's hand, whirling on him. "Why did we just leave her there? With the Goblin King?" Her tone made it clear that while Jareth was not as bad as the Lone Power, she for one did not consider Jareth to be much better, either.

Kit sighed, looking at his partner patiently. Somewhere along the way -- probably about the time that the Goblin King had reached out and pulled Sarah into his arms -- he'd figured out what had happened at the start of everything. //Tell me when I'm older the hell, Neets.// He wasn't all that good at reading sixteen-year-old girls, and while he didn't want to understand the old myth that had damn near terrified his partner just by existing, he'd seen that look before. Pretty often, really, in guys at school. "He's not going to hurt her."

Nita's voice was tight. "How sure of that are you?"

"...pretty sure. And she didn't much look like she wanted to leave, did she?"

That was the part that worried Nita most, making her screw up her face in a scowl: Sarah had looked completely comfortable, curled up half-asleep on the Goblin King's shoulder.

"Yeah, I don't like it either," Kit agreed with the look on her face, "but did it look like it was worth fighting about?"

Nita huffed, but she had to admit he had a point. "No. Not right now, at least."

"If she doesn't come back pretty soon, we'll see about getting back there, Neets."

"Can that be done without wishing someone away?" Nita asked practically. "I got the sense that no one went in or out of there without His Royal Majesty's okay."

"Yeah, I got that impression too." He grinned, just a little, at Nita's sharp sarcasm, and shrugged back at her, a darkly amused expression on his face. "If the Powers wanted her that bad, I bet we'd find a way if we had to."

Nita grinned back. "True. He's not a Power, after all." Just a nightmare. Or a dream.

"Nope. Hey, Neets, what time is it?" He looked around at the park, trying to figure out how long they'd been gone... it looked like either a full day, or not long at all, because thirteen hours would've been the middle of the night, and the sun was shining down at them. Bright and clear and a complete relief after that weird, red light of the Labyrinth and the glittering crystalline light of the moon that had hung over them in the latest part of the run.

"Eleven-ten, so we've been gone about thirteen minutes," Nita replied, shading her eyes as she glanced up at the sun. "I guess the Labyrinth is a little like Sugarloaf." Despite Its mockery of the thought, that was the kind of thing that happened when you walked into Sugarloaf.

"...Or has a really odd sense of humor?"

"I figured that one out," she answered, shivering slightly at the memory of her eerily silent run, at least until It had shown up. She'd had to put her shoes and socks back on when they'd entered the goblin city. They were still wet. Aside from her memories and the loss of thirteen minutes, that was the only proof of a thirteen-hour stint in the closest thing to Faerieland that could probably be found now that the Sidhe had gone back home and taken Their realm with Them.

"Yeah, I noticed it too," Kit made an irritated face before he shrugged. "Like the headache from all the rock yelling for me to listen to it wasn't bad enough, then it decided to give me triple-vision..."

Nita raised an eyebrow. "Really? Huh." She moved to the closest tree, sitting down against its trunk and gratefully listening to the tree idly talking to itself about its collage plans.

"I got pissed off at it trying to run me through Other New York and refused to believe it was real anymore. After a while, I could half-see the city, half-see some kind of forest maze, and half-see the stones. And none of the mazes were lined up the same way." He dropped down next to her, one hand tucked behind his head, and drew his leg up enough to rub at his still aching shin.

Nita smirked, leaning her head against the bark. "It accidentally -- or maybe not, It's getting hard to predict -- showed me that what I was seeing wasn't real. Once I knew that, pushing until it broke wasn't too hard... you'd probably tired it out some."

Kit rolled up on a shoulder, hand dropping away from his knee, and looked at her. "You said something about that, back there... do I want to know what It did?"

"... Not much," Nita said softly, glancing away from him. "It showed up. We talked. It left. It was kind of weird."

"I'm betting weird covers it real well," Kit agreed after a few moments and laid back down, trying not to think too much about that. Thinking about It and Nita at all was not something he really wanted to do.

Nita yawned, warm and feeling about as tired as Sarah had looked, and tried to fight it off.

"We are not passing out in a park, Neets," Kit told her as he heard the yawn -- and promptly followed it with one of his own.

"Are you sure?" Nita asked, laughing sleepily. He couldn't help but laugh along with her at just how in synch they were right that moment.

"... no. I don't trust myself to build the spell right," Kit admitted after a few moments to think.

"Can we put up a shield for long enough to nap?" Nita was paranoid enough to be sure that both of them asleep and unguarded was not the best idea possible.

"What, you reading my mind again?" Kit asked her, mostly teasing. They were used to having almost instant knowledge of what the other was thinking as far as a situation went, after all. And shielding was one of her specialties.

Nita laughed, reaching into a pocket for the component she generally carried and saying the last syllable, letting the shield loose. She'd kept that spell almost done all thirteen hours, and letting it go was a weight released. It wasn't her most powerful, not by a long shot, but then again Nita doubted the Lone One would show up as obviously as It had on Dair's mobile planet. She didn't need anything like the gimbal.

Kit relaxed once Nita had the spell up, and shifted around to get more comfortable, murmuring quietly to the earth about maybe being a little softer, right here around the two of them, just for a little while.

Nita listened drowsily and whispered her thanks to the dirt when it softened, then slipped asleep. Kit was only moments behind her.

TOTALLY OT

Date: 2009-01-31 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mhael.livejournal.com
Because I don't have the time to read this just now:

Diane Duane authored one of my all time favorite TNG books, Dark Mirror. It's a story that sets our Enterprise with the Mirror Universe Enterprise and their respective counterparts. In that book, she wrote what I consider to the one of the Great Truths for anyone who works under rules and regulations made by those who sit in offices miles away:

"What desk jockey ever correctly evaluated a field situation?"


She has an LJ too! [livejournal.com profile] dduane

Re: TOTALLY OT

Date: 2009-02-08 05:40 pm (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (Default)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
She is so awesome, and I love her Star Trek books. That is a great line, too.

Yep, and an IJ.

Date: 2009-02-02 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miladygrey.livejournal.com
So, like I said, I found you in a roundabout way through [livejournal.com profile] yuletide. I'm so very glad I did, this is a wonderful story! You got the characters of Sarah and Jareth perfectly (and a little romance to make my inner 14-year-old squee), and Nita and Kit got to help, but they didn't take over, which would be easy for such strong characters to do. Plus all the little mentions from both canons--Didymus and Hoggle and Ludo, and Pralaya and Wellakh and Esemeli.

I am incoherent, I hope you don't mind. *grins* Thank you for writing this--I look forward to whatever you write next!

Date: 2009-02-08 05:41 pm (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (Default)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
Welcome, you are so welcome! And thank you again for my NYR!

There's actually another chapter and an epilogue to post, I really ought to get on that, huh? I have a SHIP, it is Sarah/Jareth. Always.

It was interesting, balancing Nita and Kit, I'm so glad you thought we got it done well!! +grins+

I don't mind at all.

Date: 2009-10-23 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
Agh, I am so sorry for the late reply, and thanks for commenting!

:D :D :D I am glad to hear that you thought we did justice to both canons, especially since we love both of them.

Date: 2009-10-23 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lears-daughter.livejournal.com
Hi, I just found this and it's really fantastic. I especially love the scenes with Nita and It--very well done, kind of creepy. Are you ever going to post the last two chapters? I hope so!

Date: 2009-10-23 05:46 pm (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (Default)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
OH, wow. Thank you so very much.

Here is Chapter nine

And here is the Epilogue

Date: 2009-10-23 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Yeah, if the Lone Power ain't creepy, somebody's doing It wrong. Glad to hear you liked those sections!

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