This is a story that was written as a hommage to Pika-la-Cynique's fancomic, Girls Next Door and AsheRhyer's fancomic, Roommates. If you are a fan of Labyrinth or Phantom of the Opera, I highly suggest running over to their galleries on deviantART. Go on, you won't be disappointed!
Also, be prepared for references to a certain, infamous chicken that may or may not currently reside in the castle beyond the goblin city...
A resigned sigh escaped her lips as Sarah Williams raised a hand to knock on the apartment door. She paused, arm in position. God, this was going to be awkward... But she'd been steadily avoiding this apartment and its inhabitants for two weeks now and much as she wanted to, Sarah knew she couldn't evade him forever.
Courage, Sarah, courage!
She was completely unsurprised when the door opened up before she had a chance to rap her knuckles on it. He was there, his ever-present smirk plastered across his face.
"Hello, precious," Jareth drawled as he leaned up against the doorjamb. "Something I can do for you?" He asked suggestively.
Ugh. Christine was going to owe her big-time for this.
"Cool it, glitter-for-brains," said Sarah, irritably. "I'm not here to see you."
"Why so hostile, Sarah?" He asked, smoothly. "This is the first time we've crossed paths in two weeks and I seem to recall you having a rather pleasant time when last we met."
Don't blush, don't blush, don't blush... Bogdamnit!
Every time Sarah recalled Jareth's off-handed proposal, her whole face turned red and Christine gave her an entirely too understanding look. It was, in fact, the same look that everyone in the apartment complex had been giving her when she passed them in the hall or rode with them on the elevator.
Jareth's smirk widened into a grin and Sarah realized she'd been staring. "Sarah..." He said her name, elongating the 's' just enough to make it sound dirty.
Eurgh! Her stomach flip-flopped once. Supper was disagreeing with her, that was all. It had absolutely nothing to do with the way her name slipped off Jareth's tongue.
"Look," Sarah said, "Christine sent me down here to check on Erik." She glanced around Jareth but saw no sign of his roommate. "How is he?"
"I've no idea," Jareth said, dropping some of his smug demeanor. "He shut himself up in his room after Miss Daae came down here to announce that she and the fop had finally picked a date for their impending nuptuals. I haven't seen him since."
"Jareth, you jerk!" Sarah nearly shouted. "Are you telling me that Erik hasn't left his room in three days and you haven't bothered to check on him?" A horrible thought struck her and she elbowed Jareth out of the way. "Oh god, what if -"
"He's not gone and hanged himself, if that's what your worried about," Jareth cut her off as she strode towards Erik's room. "He's been thundering away on that infernal piano for the last three days. I heard him not thirty minutes ago."
"That doesn't mean he's okay!" Sarah tossed over her shoulder. She knocked on the bedroom door. There was no response. She knocked again, louder this time. "Erik?" She called. Still no answer. "Erik, it's Sarah. Can I come in?"
When there was still no answer, Sarah reached for the doorknob. She looked back at Jareth. "Do you think I should...?" He shrugged and took a seat on the couch. Sarah decided she should. The door was unlocked and she pushed it open slowly, ready to pull it shut again if Erik was in a state of undress.
But no half-dressed ex-phantom greeted her as she stepped into the room.
The light was dim at best. It looked as if all the candles had been lit at one time but most of them had burnt down to nothing. To her left the bed was made and untouched. In front of her, at the far end of the room, Erik sat at his piano. He was bent low, elbows propped on the keys, head in his hands.
All around him, on the piano, on the floor, were crumpled and discarded pieces of handwritten sheet music. Sarah thought that he had never looked so utterly defeated.
She walked forward and immediately almost tripped over a stray shoe and Erik's black suit coat. With the intent of draping it over a chair or something, Sarah picked coat up. On the floor, underneath it, something white caught her eye. It was Erik's porcelain half mask; he had discarded it with his coat and shoes. Sarah glanced up at the back of his head, thought hard for a moment, and then picked up the mask too.
Erik hadn't moved the entire time, so when he spoke, Sarah jumped slightly.
"Did you need something, Sarah?" He asked wearily, not looking up.
"How did you know it was me?" She asked.
"The walls in this apartment are thin and I'm not deaf," he said. "I heard Jareth let you in."
Sarah laid the coat on the bed and then crossed the room to the piano. "Well, I wanted to check on you," she said. "And Christine wanted to make sure you were alright."
He let out a humorless bark of laughter. "Oh yes," he said. "You can tell the future Madame de Chagny that I'm just fine."
Sarah cringed at the bitterness of his voice. "Erik..." she started.
"Don't," he stopped her. "Just... don't. I'm fine, really. I've been composing."
"Oh?" Sarah said, desperate for something to say. "Uh, what have you been writing?"
"Wedding music," Erik said. "What else?" He laughed again and this time it was tinged with hysteria. "Appropriate, considering the circumstances, don't you think?"
Christine, I think you broke him...
This was harder than Sarah had thought it would be. Seeing him here, looking so sad and... well, Sarah didn't think she'd ever felt sorrier for anyone in her life. She put a hand on his shoulder, hoping to lend some comfort, but his head jerked up at her touch and he turned to look at her. Carefully keeping her expression neutral, Sarah met his eyes as the scarred half of Erik's face caught the waning candlelight. It wasn't so bad, really. Sarah had seen war veterans with more shocking deformities than Erik's, and most of them had wives and children. It was the 21st century, after all, and not Paris in the 1800's.
Erik's gaze landed on the porcelain mask in her hand and for a second he just stared. Panic blossomed across his features, and Sarah knew he had forgotten that he wasn't wearing it. Looking horrified, he quickly brought a hand up to cover the side of his face and turned back away from her.
"Oh for heaven's sake, Erik!" Sarah burst out. "Colonel Draper, who volunteers in the registrar's office, looks ten times worse! And he has grandchildren! He met and married his wife after his injury. No one cares!"
He said nothing, but reached a hand out to the side for the mask. Sarah gently placed it in his hand, regretting her outburst.
Way to go, Sarah. Yell at him while he's at his most insecure, why don't you?
"I'm sorry," she said, quietly. "I'll, um, just go." She turned, but his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist.
"No it's alright," Erik said, and Sarah saw that he had the mask back in place.
"You know," Sarah said tentatively. "Half the girls that take voice lessons from you are only there because they think you're cute. Apparently, you have an "air of mystery" about you."
He blinked at her. "Well," he said slowly, after a moment, "That would explain why half my students can't carry a tune in a bucket."
Sarah giggled. "Careful Erik," she said, "Your sense of humor is showing."
He smiled wanly. "I'll be fine, you know," he said, sounding anything but. "Go back and tell Christine. And take that to her if you'd be so kind." He pointed to a little table to the right of the piano where a flatish white box lay with a bit of black lace tied around it to hold on the lid.
"What is it?" Sarah asked, curious.
"A wedding present," Erik said tonelessly. "The only thing I could give her."
"I'm sorry," Sarah said, not know what else to say.
Erik shook his head. "It's my own fault," he said. "I knew this was coming and still..." He suddenly got up and went over to the bed where he laid down, flat on his back. "Why do I always do this to myself?" He asked, his exhuasted voice floating up out of the semi-darkness. "Why can't I just let her go?"
"Because you love her," Sarah said.
"Yes," said Erik. "Yes, I do."
"Well, there's always hope, you know," Sarah said brightly.
"Hope?" Erik repeated dully.
"Sure," said Sarah. "Raoul could, I don't know, catch West Nile Virus the day before the wedding."
Erik snorted. "A truly encouraging thought," he said. "Or perhaps he'll trip over his cane and fall down a flight of stairs in his estate."
"He could get trampled by a herd of rampaging rhinoceroses," Sarah suggested.
"Impaled by an irate old lady with an umbrella."
"Strangled by a jealous stable boy!"
"Suffocated underneath an avalanche of precariously placed footwear from his walk-in closet!"
They dissolved into laughter. Tears of mirth streamed down Sarah's face as she thought of poor Raoul smothering under a huge pile of his own shoes.
"Why is it," Erik said, after his own chuckles had subsided, "That you are always around when I am at my worst?"
"Because I'm your friend," Sarah said, walking towards the bed. "And friends don't just –" But at that moment, Sarah's foot found one of Erik's discarded shoes. She lost her balance and tumbled forward with an inarticulate shriek of surprise. To her immense embarrassment, she land flat on top of Erik on the bed, her face scant centimeters from his.
Both of them froze in shock, his eyes wide, her face turning what she was sure was a flaming shade of red. "Oh my god," Sarah groaned. "I'm so sorry!" She started to push herself up but Erik's hands were around her shoulders, stopping her.
"Wait," he said, hoarsely "I want try something."
"What do you-" Her inquiry was cut off when Erik closed the small gap between them and kissed her. Sarah froze again. She had just enough time to think "Holy crap!" before Erik disappeared from beneath her.
Sarah scrambled up on her knees. In Erik's place on the bed sat a very confused looking black chicken and not a small amount of glitter.
Sarah hadn't closed the door behind her when she had come into the room earlier and Jareth, no doubt coming to see what the shriek had been about, had walked in just as Erik had kissed her. He was standing in the doorway of the darkened room and Sarah couldn't make out of the expression on his face but she could see his outline and it didn't bode well. His entire body was rigid, arms straight, fists clenched.
Sarah glanced at the Erik-chicken and when she looked back up, Jareth was gone. Without stopping to ask herself why she cared if he was upset, Sarah hurled herself out the door and into the living room just in time to see Jareth disappear in a whirl of black cloak and glitter.
"Frick, frick, and double frick!" Sarah yelled in frustration.
Behind her, somewhere from the depths of Erik's room, came a loud, questioning squawk.
"Let me get this straight," Christine said twenty minutes later, "You tripped, fell on top of Erik, he kissed you, Jareth turned him into a chicken, and then poofed himself out of the apartment."
"Ayup," said Sarah.
They were sitting at the kitchen table in their own apartment and Sarah had been telling Christine the whole (sordid) story. On the kitchen floor, Erik-chicken pecked at some cornflakes that Sarah had left on a plate for him. Christine eyed him doubtfully.
"You're sure that chicken is actually Erik?" She asked.
"Pretty sure," said Sarah.
"And he really kissed you?" Why did she sound jealous?
"Yeah," said Sarah. "But I don't think he really meant it," she added. "He was tired and upset and not thinking."
"And Jareth walked in on it?"
Sarah nodded. "Transformed into the full Goblin King regalia before he made his exit too."
Christine blew out a breath. "That's never a good sign," she said.
"Nope," Sarah agreed.
"Well," Christine said, "He won't stay away long and you can explain what happened and smack some sense into him when he gets back."
"Sure," Sarah said.
"Meanwhile, what do we do with him?" Christine looked down at Erik-chicken.
Sarah sighed and rubbed at her temples. "I think we'd better call Luna."
Calling Luna proved to be a very good idea. In less than an hour, the witch arrived at their apartment, wand in hand.
"It's rather a shame, really," she said, after having a look at Erik-chicken. "He seems happier as a chicken."
"But you can change him back?" Christine asked.
"Oh yes," said Luna, and she pointed her wand at Erik-chicken. "Finite Incantatem!"
There was a poof of more glitter as Jareth's spell was broken and then Erik, the regular Erik, was standing in their kitchen, looking mortified.
"It's just as well," said Luna, after a moment of absolute embarrassed silence. "He's much handsomer as a man than a chicken."
Luna headed out for an evening class and Erik fled shortly thereafter, mumbling profuse apologies and not looking either Sarah or Christine in the eye.
The next morning brought no appearances from their downstairs neighbors. Erik was clearly too embarrassed to speak to either of them at the moment and Jareth was still MIA. Sarah passed the whole day in relative calm until she came back to her apartment after her last afternoon class to find Christine sitting motionless at the kitchen table, staring at the box that Erik had instructed Sarah to give her.
"I didn't open it last night," said Christine as Sarah came into the kitchen and reached into the fridge for a bottle of water. "Do you know what this is?" She asked.
"Erik said it was a wedding present," Sarah said cautiously.
"Christine laughed, or it might have been a sob. Sarah wasn't really sure. "It's music for my wedding," she said. "He composed an entire selection of original music for my wedding. To Raoul."
"Wow," said Sarah. "He told me he'd been writing wedding music, but I guess I didn't put two and two together. Jareth said he'd been at it for three days. He didn't leave his room and I'm pretty sure he didn't sleep either."
Christine leaned an elbow on the table and pressed the heel of her hand to her mouth. "I am doing the right thing, aren't I, Sarah?" She asked after a bit.
What? "Uh," Sarah said.
"I mean, I love Raoul," said Christine. "He's sweet and nice, but..."
The phone rang and startled them both. Christine answered it with a distracted "hello."
"Oh, um, hello Erik," Christine said, "I'm glad you called I wanted to talk to- oh.. yes, she's right here." Christine held out the phone to Sarah. "He wants to speak to you," she said, an odd look on her face.
"Uh, right," said Sarah, putting down her bottle of water and taking the phone. "Erik?" She said into the receiver. The conversation was brief and after it was over, Sarah stood holding the phone until the dial tone finally sounded loudly and she remembered to hang it up.
"What was that about?" Christine asked.
Sarah sat heavily in an empty chair. "Erik wanted me to know that when he got back to the apartment a few minutes ago, all of Jareth's stuff was gone."
"Oh dear," said Christine.
Sarah pressed her face into her hands. "That great glittering idiot," she muttered. "You know what I'm going to have to do, don't you?" She looked up at Christine.
Christine half-smiled. "I think you're going to have to make a wish."
Sarah sighed. No time like the present. "I wish the King of the Goblins was here, right now!" She said loudly to Christine and the kitchen in general.
They sat and waited for a few seconds. Nothing. Christine looked surprised.
"I wish the goblins would come and take me to their kind, right now!" Sarah tried again.
Three goblins and, oddly enough, a black chicken, popped into existence on the kitchen table.
"King say we no take you anywhere anymore," one of them said.
"King mad," said another.
"King sad," added the third.
"Jareth told you not to grant any wishes for me?" Sarah asked, dumbfounded.
All three nodded. Behind them, the chicken clucked loudly. All three whipped around, noticing the bird for the first time, and then pandemonium broke loose on the table.
"Ahhhhhh!" Screamed one goblin, throwing his hairy arms up in the air.
"Rosalinda following us!" Yelled another, pulling on his flappy ears.
"Run away!" Shrieked the third as he ran in confused circles around the other two.
All three of them dashed off the table and out of the room, presumably towards Sarah's room and her mirror. The chicken followed, clucking madly and pecking ferociously at their heels.
"What the heck was that all about?" Christine asked.
"Dunno," said Sarah.
"What does it mean when Jareth ignores your wishes?" Christine wanted to know.
"It means," said Sarah, "That he's got his sparkly undies in a wad. Or maybe," she added, something inside her chest tearing just a little, "He doesn't want anything to do with me anymore."
Sarah let it go for three days, three days of making wishes that went unheeded, three days of wondering if he was gone forever, before she got angry. How dare he spend years harassing her and then just disappear? How dare he throw her a casual proposal and then skive off? He had no right to be upset with her! She hadn't done anything wrong! It was a misunderstanding, and a stupid one at that!
On the evening of the third day, Sarah stood in front of her bedroom mirror and called Hoggle. He appeared in the mirror, sitting on the bed behind her and Sarah turned in relief, glad that this magic at least, still worked.
"What did you do?" Hoggle asked accusingly, his arms crossed.
"I didn't do anything!" Sarah said defensively. "His Royal Stupidness just didn't bother to stick around and let me explain that!" She fumed for a minute then asked and a smaller voice. "Is he really mad?"
"He bogged fifty-three goblins the day he came back," said Hoggle.
Sarah grimaced. "That bad, huh?"
"And then he shut himself up in the tower and hasn't come out since," said Hoggle.
What was it with men and their caves?
"Right," said Sarah, determined. "You're taking me to him."
Hoggle looked alarmed. "No I ain't!" He said. "I like my limbs in their current configuration!"
"I'm not asking, Hoggle!" Sarah said, "I'm telling."
"Now you sound like him," Hoggle said.
"Whatever gets you to pull me through that mirror with you," said Sarah. Then in a more wheedling tone, "You don't have to actually go with me to talk to him. I just need to get into the castle."
"Fine," Hoggle said, shaking his head. "It's your funeral." He hopped off the bed and over to the mirror. He grasped Sarah's hand when she came over to stand next to him. "You ready?" He asked.
She hadn't been back since her first and last fateful visit. "Ready as I'll ever be," Sarah said, and they went through.
Hoggle, despite his protestations, guided her up to Jareth's tower before he declined to go any further. He threw her a "good luck" as he left at top speed.
Sarah didn't bother to knock. If Jareth was busy, then that was just too bad for him! She shoved open the door, marched in, and halted abruptly. When Hoggle had said the tower, Sarah had pictured a study or something of the like, but this was obviously Jareth's private living quarters. She quickly glanced over the large four-poster bed and matching furniture before her gaze settled on why she was there in the first place. Jareth sat in a huge windowseat at the far end of the room and upon seeing his slumped posture, Sarah had an unpleasant moment of deja vu as she remembered Erik sitting at his piano a few days earlier.
"I have no qualms about throwing every single one of you into the bog if you insist upon coming in here after I have expressly told-" He stopped when he finally turned his head and saw Sarah. "You." He said, his demeanor instantly changed back to the haughty confidence that Sarah was so used to. "Hello, precious. Something I can do for you?" He asked, his tone cruel and mocking now rather than suggestive.
Sarah wasn't put off. "You're an idiot, you know that, right?" She asked, hands on her hips.
"I'm well aware of that, thank you!" Jareth spat back at her.
Hoo boy, he is pissed.
"How else could I explain not noticing you carrying on with that masked interloper while I continued to make attempts at earning your regard?"
"I was not carrying on with Erik!" Sarah shouted.
Jareth was on his feet now, stalking over to her, wrapping the menacing Goblin King aura about himself. Gone was the suggestive swagger and and easy confidence. He was angry and he was powerful and he was showing it.
"Get out," he rasped, coming up to stand toe to toe with her.
"No," Sarah said, not backing down.
He held the infuriated Goblin King persona for another couple of minutes before his shoulders slumped again. "What do you want with me, Sarah? Haven't you defeated me enough?" He asked forlornly.
"Jareth, you moron," Sarah said. "I tripped over a stupid shoe and fell on him!"
"Fell on his lips?" Jareth quirked an eyebrow.
"No," Sarah said. "He kissed me."
"Stop," Sarah said, putting up a hand against his chest. She could feel the pendant he always wore and underneath that, his heart, beating wildly. "It was a stupid thing to do and he knows it," she continued. "He has since apologized and can barely look me in the eye. He was upset, you glittery git! People do stupid stuff when they are distraught. You, of all people, should know that."
Jareth was looking down to where her hand was still on his chest and Sarah hastily pulled it away. He took a step closer, brows furrowed.
"You aren't... he isn't... you didn't...?
"No," Sarah said firmly.
"Oh," said Jareth, relaxing. "Well, alright then."
Sarah pinched the bridge of her nose. "Ugh! Why can't I find a boyfriend that doesn't go turn into a complete idiot every time..." She broke off as she realized what she'd said.
Jareth had frozen, staring at her.
"That's not what I meant to..." Sarah said hastily, as the familiar suggestive smirk broke once more across Jareth's face. "I mean, I didn't... Oh god..."
Jareth caught her chin and tilted it up with one gloved finger. "As much as I enjoy hearing you refer to myself in that manner," he said, "that's not the term I would suggest you use for me."
"You're right," said Sarah, desperately grasping at her control of the conversation. "I think idiot was more well-suited to you."
Jareth growled again.
"No?" Sarah said. "Moron?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of betrothed," Jareth whispered in her ear.
Sarah shivered slightly. "Absolutely not," she said.
"Intended?" He queried, snaking a hand up to cup the back of her head.
"Love?" He whispered in her other ear, and pulled her flush up against him.
Sarah shuddered against him. "Look," she said, trying to keep her head against the onslaught, "I'll call you whatever you want as long as you quit acting like a five-year-old and promise not to turn poor Erik into a chicken again."
"Whatever you say," Jareth said, and pressed his mouth to hers.
Sarah swayed on the spot. Fortunately, Jareth seemed intent on keeping her wrapped tightly in his arms and so when her legs buckled, she didn't hit the floor. She vaguely remembered that she should pull away, should stop this, and then she thought, "Ah well, what the hell?" and instead of pushing him off, she opened her mouth slightly.
She wasn't sure how long they stood there, fused together, but when they broke away, her's wasn't the only ragged breathing in the room. Jareth stared hard at her, breathing heavily, and then he threw back his head and laughed long and joyously before swooping down on her lips again.
When they pulled apart the second time, they were back in Sarah and Christine's living room and Sarah, shell-shocked as she was, became aware that they were not alone and that she was still clutching Jareth like her life depended on it. There was a crunch of shattering china as Christine dropped the teacup and saucer she was holding. James and Javert were sitting on the couch, James' mouth wide open, Javert's eyes wide. Az and Crowley were there too, Crowley laughing his head off and Az rolling his eyes slightly at him.
"Sarah, love," Jareth said in her ear, "Forgive me, but I need to move my belongings back into my apartment." He released her, kissed the back of her hand, and disappeared in his usual cloud of glitter.
Sarah wobbled slightly and looked around the room. "Don't any of you say a word," she said, getting her wits back. She quickly headed to her bedroom and that night, Sarah dreamed of Jareth, a huge four-poster bed, and for some reason, a black chicken.