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3,564 Clappers Later

By Shadowlurker13

Romance / Fantasy

Guess Who's Back

Chapter 1 - "Guess Who's Baaaaaack....."

In the blink of an eye it was done; Jareth's drastically sudden change in weight made the tree branch he had been perching on snap in two and he hit a few more on the way down before finally dropping unceremoniously to the ground. Groggily he pried open his eyes. "What in the name of - !" - the shock woke him completely as he finally realized that he was unaccountably back in his power form - the humanoid one. What in cosmos could've possibly done this?! By way of that annoying little decree made so many years ago, Sarah had effectively stripped him of most of his power - and now he found himself miraculously near-restored.

But how?... and why?...too many questions and not enough action to justify them, he thought,slowly, painfully picking himself up off the grass. Quietly cursing his owl lifestyle for getting him used to sleeping during the day when most humans were active, he quickly scanned about him to ascertain if there had been any witnesses of the transformation - the risk to himself was a severe one and would require immediate memory erasure if there were any. The only person in the park was a young woman under a nearby elm tree, fingers tapping away furiously on some strange mechanical device, so engrossed in her current action that she had failed to notice his presence completely.

Humans and their technology, Jareth thought with a small smile, shaking his head. I wonder what she's doing that's so distracting. Quickly melting his poet's shirt and trademark tight breeches into a tight white t-shirt and black jeans in the attempt to emulate some of the less-offensive human clothing he had seen men wearing in the park over the years, reserving the boots beneath (he wasn't about to conjure something as hideous as a tennis shoe), he silently stalked over and slipped behind her tree to get a better look.

Joyfully oblivious, Anna was just completing her seventh literary contribution to her favorite fan fiction archive - a Labyrinth story in which Jareth and Sarah have to battle evil ogres to save the kingdom and - almost prerequisite - fall in love in the process. Genuinely surprised at the content but arrogantly flattered, he quietly read over her shoulder as she added the finishing touches to the end makeout scene and watched as she hit 'update' before finally confronting her.

"A fascinating piece of work, really, but how did you know?"

Anna nearly tossed her laptop as she jumped in surprise at the deep, melodic voice coming from right behind her and she quickly whipped around to see the beautiful stranger who had managed to creep up on her and nearly make her destroy countless files of fan downloads and personal fiction.

"How did I know what?" she queried, eying him cautiously.

"That story, about the Goblin King and the girl?"

"Have you ever seen "Labyrinth"?"

"Seen Labyrinth?" he said, non-plussed, his eyebrows now knit in confusion. Yes, I've seen it. Up until recently I'd seen it every day. What in Underground is this?

*sigh* stupid park full of bums and druggies... "Yeah, seen the movie. By Jim Henson? Labyrinth? Starring the internationally famous rock god David Bowie? I mean I know it's a cult thing but for a second there you had me worried. Are you okay?"

"...I believe so." His crisp accent was not lost on her as he walked out from behind the tree.

"You're not from around here are you? Are you British?" Her eyes began to light up in fascination and possibility.

"Something like that," he smiled. Leannan Sidhe to get really specific but let's just gloss over that point for right now. I may need her...

"Hey, I dig the eyeshadow - looks very cool! Do you go clubbing a lot?"

'Eyeshadow'? Oh damn, I forgot to conjure away the markings! And what the hell is 'clubbing'? She cannot possibly mean the literal connotation..."Clubbing?"

"Dancing?"

"Oh yes, very much," he blurted out looking away, his lack of recent regional human colloquialisms now painfully apparent.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

"...just feeling a bit out of place I guess," he admitted wearily. Not an exaggeration but much more of an honest sentiment than he was comfortable with disclosing under the circumstances. Under any circumstances. Here he was, the almighty Goblin King and Ruler of the Labyrinth for longer than anyone on this entire planet had been alive, and he was being made self-conscious by a young human female. Ludicrous, he thought as he sat Indian-style a decent distance across from her on the green.

"Wow, I had no idea Brit slang was so different from U.S.! You haven't been here long, have you?"

"Only twenty-one years."

"Only twenty-one years?!"

"Twenty-one years," he stated, beginning to get annoyed at her incredulity, "not long at all. I might put the same question to you you're being so inquisitive," he finally countered with a tilt of the head and a teasing smirk.

"You snuck up on me, I have every right to want to know who you are! ....fine, I'll bite. Here in Albany? All my life."

He studied her for a moment. "How old are you?"

Anna laughed a little. Yeah, I'm legal. "Twenty-one. How old art thou?"

"Old enough, and 'thou' is the wrong preposition with which to address a stranger or even an acquaintance. The correct one is 'you.'" A little lesson in proper addresses never hurt anyone;)

"Touché."

"I was tutored well in grammar."

"...wait a second...those eyes...that hair...nice job, Anna, you're officially cracking up..."

"What's wrong with my hair?!"

"Oh nothing, you look fabulous, it's just that this can't be real. Here, I'll prove it! What's your name?"

"Promise not to laugh? It's a bit antiquated."

"Promise."

"Jareth. Now it's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance but I still don't understand the source of your consternation..." It was his turn to look worried.

"Do the words way too much fan fiction and not enough sleep mean anything to you?"

"Admittedly not much, but sleep, and particularly dreams, happens to be my specialty. Now-"

"I'M HALLUCENATING ABOUT THE GOBLIN KING!"

Ah. Oh my. Better calm her down quickly or at least shut her up before she starts drawing unnecessary attention...

"First of all, if you really were losing your mind, screaming like that wouldn't make the least bit of difference in the world, so for both our sakes hush! Secondly, I can assure you personally that in seeing and interacting with me you have not taken leave of your senses."

Anna sat there staring in complete and utter shock, slowly taking in what seemed to be an honest (if somewhat improbable) figure whom up to this moment she had just assumed was the product of some overactive female writer's imagination. Still understandably shaken and not really ready to trust her eyes and ears she decided a reality check was best in her current situation.

"Prove it."

"Prove what? That I exist?" He looked a bit amused at her consternation. "Didn't I just give you my word as a gentleman? Besides, you seem to know about me already somehow..." If anyone in my kingdom has let the word out they'll wish they only had the devil to pay...

You, a gentleman? That's definitely questionable. "...I'd like to believe, but it really seems a bit too fantastical, I mean you... being here and all...I just thought you were a character from a story," she finally admitted. As weird as it sounded, it was the truth.

So the little buggers got a bit too busy with the printing press, did they? They were only supposed to make one believable copy of the storybook and I personally made sure that one got delivered. I wonder who saw the others...no matter, what's done is done and if I ever get home someone will be in the Bog in short order. At least it is considered a work of fiction, or definitive action on a planetary scale would be in immediate order for the safety of my kingdom, he mentally winced. He dragged a hand over his eyes and took a deep breath. Now for getting home... *sigh*: how do I convince this girl that this is real...? Jareth seriously thought for a moment when his eyes suddenly flashed with an ideaas a devious smirk spread across his porcelain features. Better than a glass of water in the face. Dead ringer.

"I am correct in presuming that you have no psychic capabilities at all, am I not?" He turned to Anne and smiled a small, knowing smile. If she had she would've been able to feel that I am no mortal man by now simply from proximity.

She shook her head no. "Not a blip."

"Excellent, Anna Josephine Johnson." Anna's jaw momentarily dropped in disbelief when he rattled off her full given name but Jareth just smiled, tapped it closed with one gloved finger, and continued in a low, conspiratory tone, leaning forward, barely able to conceal his smugness in showing off. She leaned in, too, curious to see what he was up to. "Now listen closely for what I am about to tell you will occur precisely 45 seconds from now. A boy in a yellow shirt is about to ride his bicycle into this park" he emphasized, pointing down. "He will become distracted by a running woman whom he will find extremely attractive in the physical sense and, in consequence, will momentarily not be watching the path; he will ride straight into the lake! He may need some small assistance in retrieving his bicycle, that part of the lakebed is particularly viscous. I'll wait for you here."

And with that he vanished. No fading, no glitter, just gone like that.

Now I know I was dreaming, thought Anna. No more fics for a year, I swear! It was then that she looked up just in time to see her best friend Steven pedal into the park on the bike trail, lose his train of thought thanks to an anorexic jogger in a D-cup, and fly off smack into the deep section of the lake, narrowly missing the stone bridge by a measly two feet. "STEVEN!" That idiot! She ran over to help him get out, the bank was steep with few sure footholds; with a bit of extra effort they managed to pull up the bike, now completely caked in at least 20 lbs. of mud and slime.

"Nice to know where your brain is these days, you nut! You're lucky I was here or that bike would've been officially glued to the bottom of the lake for sure!"

"Point taken but, hey, I'm only human! I don't make fun of you when you drool over guys that don't even exist, do I have to start naming them? Captain Jack Sparrow," he made a mock salute, "Legolas, Jareth-"

"Okay, okay, I get it!" ...oh god, can he hear us? Please no...

"Speak of the devil... earth to Anna?" He waved his hand in front of her face a couple of times.

She blinked suddenly. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

Steven just sighed in faux exasperation and shook his head, smiling at her. "Seriously, thanks, though. Hey, are you free tonight? We could go to a movie or just hang out at my house or something?"

"You know that sounds great but I reeally have to finish this Laby story I've been working on-"

"Not another one?"

"Hey, everybody needs a hobby."

"Yeah, note the usage here: hobby, not obsession. ...awww, don't give me that look, Anna, alright. Give me a call if you can ever pry yourself away from Pretty Boy, okay?"

"I promise. See ya later then!"

Anna watched her now-bedraggled friend walking resignedly away with his heavy bike in tow before reluctantly returning to the elm. Jareth was lounging in her spot in a rather insolent fashion, one knee propped up and his elbow resting on it.

"Pretty Boy? Is that his epithet for me or yours I wonder..." That small, knowing smile again.

"...mine," she said at length, eyes averted and cheeks flaming in clear embarrassment. Who ever thought I' d be admitting my crush to his face?!

This may prove to be easy after all if she feels some type of attraction toward me he thought with a devilish inward smirk. Gotcha. Switching on a subtle come-hither spell that would've made Nosferatu weep, he fixed her with one of his most compelling gazes - calm yet intense. And in a soft, husky voice to match:

"Would you help me?"

All Anna could do was nod 'yes'.

She's already lost in her dreams, he mentally chuckled. Not a bad idea for payment if she can deliver. He genuinely gave a full smile at her reaction and was satisfied to hear a small, involuntary intake of air. Too easy. "Come here. Sit," he added in the same tone, like the magician he was, and he gestured to the empty space right beside him.

Come here? I'm ready to launch myself at him! Wonder what he needs. Without a second thought, Anna jumped at the chance and did as he bade, totally unaware of the fact that she wouldn't be able to move from that spot - literally - secured by the come-hither. Jareth decided to leave it on as a safety precaution in light of how antsy she had been only moments ago; hopefully it would prove to be unnecessary. Those sort of things only directly affected the body and indirectly the mind. He had once employed such a device to great success and incredible heartbreak...

Not now! Concentrate on the task at hand! He continued in the same tone of voice. "That device of yours, could it ...research someone?"

At this Anna openly bust up laughing and Jareth was noticeably taken aback at her strange reaction.

"You just need me for my computer!...I mean, why else, right?......right.....*sigh* okay, who are you looking for?" she finally asked, the short-lived dream shattered, opening the laptop back up.

"I am sorry," he said, putting one hand on hers, "I just thought that that might make this easier for both of us." She looked at him levelly. " I guess not..."

"If you want to start dealing better with humans you can't just wave a dream in somebody's face and then expect them not to be disappointed when that's all it is - a dream."

An odd piece of logic that but it strangely makes sense. Form without substance. Honesty above all, even if it hurts. Very well.

Anna saw that he had gone strangely pensive. He really isn't used to dealing with people. Be a little easier on him. "What was the name?"

What? ...Oh! He had waited so long! "Sarah Williams."

"The whole story's literal truth then?"

He withdrew his hand, momentarily looking away. "Mostly, yes."

"Wait a minute - were you waiting for her?!"

"I'm trapped here," he ground out, looking back at her, a bit annoyed at having to disclose so much even to a small portion of the public.

Anna's eyes widened in incredulity and a quiet 'oh' formed on her lips. Laughing would probably get me killed right about now. "...and only she can get you back! How? Why didn't you try asking somebody before?"

"I believe you know almost know too much already," he continued, straightening one of his altered gloves (why humans liked to cut the fingers and knuckles out of a perfectly good pair of leather gloves was a complete mystery but oh well) "I was trapped in my totem form. I have yet to find one of your kind that can comprehend a series of hoots."

He was trying. That's desperation.

"I found myself restored to near-proper capacity not an hour ago and I don't know why."

That last statement really made Anne think. That was a pretty awkward situation and desperate times did justify desperate measures, but what could've done that after twenty-one years? She suddenly blanched. Oh no, she's not dead, is she? That would probably set things straight in a hurry. But that would correct things completely, wouldn't it? He wouldn't still be here if that were the case. There must be another way...oh no, it's too ridiculous, and yet... "Would wishing bring you back?

"I haven't been truly summoned in years, it was quite impossible-"

"No, I mean just wishing. Wishing that you were real."

Dreamscape? The collective human unconscious of course! Was it really possible?

"Reason I asked was... well... take a look at this," and she brought back up the fan fiction indexes, turning the screen toward him so he could see. Under the title Labyrinth there were now precisely 3,500 entries, counting Anna's. She handed him the PC and he gingerly placed the strange device in his lap as she had done. "Can you use this?" Has he ever even touched a computer before?

He knit his brows. "It looks simple enough." After a quick study of the keyboard and some small testing of the 'mouse' finger pad he began using the scroll options to peruse the first fistful of stories. And, at the top of nearly all the entries, beneath what appeared to be a brief apology to a Mr. Jim Henson, were statement after statement of admiration, affection, and outright worship (physical and otherwise) - all directed at him!

"And that's just this site. There are some others but..."Anna trailed off into nervous guilty laughter, shaking her head, "oh, man..."

"But what?!"

"Let me just put it this way: I don't write smut."

Jareth raised his eyebrows at that one and he started a low, gentle chuckle, his head slowly leaning back as he laughed. If the end of Anna's story was average of the genre, there were hundreds upon hundreds of human females out there wishing their favorite anti-hero was with Sarah. Not just with her, mind you - with power over her!

And in many different ways, apparently. It seems that I have an army here that's even more unquestioningly loyal than those brainless goblins. Damn lucky, too. ...wait, why would they even like such a villain as I am probably, at least originally, portrayed?...oh never mind, the answer is probably far too complex and riddled with bad psychological events for even my taste. Don't take a gift vulture for granted and all that. His ego thoroughly stroked, he theatrically handed the laptop back, stretched out like a cat, and, leaning elegantly back into the tree with his arms crossed behind his head, mockingly took up court and pronounced in a teasingly aristocratic tone: "You may begin the search for my lady Sarah."

Rolling her eyes, Anna opened up the online multi-search engine that contained the White Pages and queried the full name with no further information. "Oh man, you've got to be kidding, there are over 500 entries! Did you have any idea just how common that name is?! We'll be here for weeks!"

"Well, if that's how long it takes-"

"I was being facetious, but, seriously, we have to weed this list down somehow. How old is she?"

He thought for a moment. "...37."

Anna looked at him. "You realize, of course, that there's the possibility that she's married by now?"

"If the problem arises I'll deal with it," he said darkly.

"Oh my."

"The Search?"

"Right! Wait, am I getting used or am I getting used here?! What if I choose not to work for free, huh? Admit it, J, you need me," she said with a confident smirk. Cocky, determined bastard. Time to bring him back to earth.

Her breath hitched for a moment as she felt a distinct tug on the come-hither and met his eyes involuntarily. He looked positively dangerous but only in the manner that would give a devout female listian chills of pleasure. He produced a dream crystal and mockingly flashed a smile.

Just reminding her who's in charge here.

Anna's eyes widened in surprise and greed when she saw the crystal, knowing damn well what it was, and made a lunge for it. Deftly holding it out of her reach he chuckled lightly.

"Ah, ah, ahhh," he tutted, "only when you give me Ms. Williams full address."

"You don't fight fair!"

"I never said I did, now get back to work," he shooed her with a little hand gesture, settling back into a comfortable recline.

"Great, that narrowed down the field to 28. By the way, you're really effeminate, you know that?"

"It also says something about your taste as well, but that's neither here nor there. Let me see that list."

"They're spread out all over the country - Good luck! Can't you just use one of those crystals to see where she is?"

"I may not be able to but I can try. It might be another power that is still damaged in her favor." He formed another crystal out of thin air and found Anna staring, entranced. He watched her, a bit amused. "Are all Labyrinth devotees like you?"

"What? Oh, sorry, I could just watch you play with those things for days..."

Shaking his head at her yet again with an amusedly annoyed sigh he clenched the crystal in his left hand and began to concentrate, willing Sarah's location to come to him; it was like reaching out into the dark and an object floats into your hands - usually. Sarah's power was obviously fighting him, trying to block his scry. ...just a little more...almost got it...aha! The orb suddenly glowed to life with Sarah's face, the image causing it to hum slightly. Time had not been entirely kind to her, he noted with a bit of sadness.

Damn human mortality. While she had obviously matured quite nicely if her facial features and bone structure were anything to go by, there were already crow's feet developing in the corners of her eyes when one looked closely and a line here and there elsewhere - this one from worry, those from laughing too much. Like lines on a palm it seemed to Jareth that every action or thought or experience had by a human left a tell-tale trace of its presence in some small way or another and his precious Sarah held true to the rule. And one perfectly silver hair, shining brightly in the artificial light. Who caused that? he thought with a sad smile. In an odd, morbid way the process fascinated him; gods know he'd seen it play out for hundreds of years while he himself never experienced change or age. No visible history. Sarah had made him feel like he was alive, really alive, not just a statue of a monarch doomed to withstand the tempest of time for centuries to come without flinching.

It was Anna's turn to shock him out of reverie.

*ahem!*

"What? Ah, yes, where were we?" he drawled in a pleasant tone, not about to let her have the upper-hand. "I suppose that doesn't help much, does it?"

"Can't you get anything more than her face? Pan out and scan around or something."

"This isn't as easy a spell as it looks - her power is pulling on the other side of this. I must keep her face in sight or the crystal will implode.

"Sounds like Mission: Impossible."

"What's that?"

"Oh it's an old 'spy movie'" - she continued in a mock low, serious voice, "'this tape will self-destruct in thirty seconds."

"Danger and excitement, two of my many attractive qualities," he said with a cocky smile, only half-joking.

"I never should've let you see that fan base - your ego is not one of them."

A warning glance shot in Anne's direction shut her up promptly but it softened with the tug of a wry half-smile. She has a point.

Short fuse, be careful...

Upon seeing her tense again, Jareth reflected that he had to be careful with this girl. You know she scares easily so don't do it on purpose! He closed his eyes momentarily, took a deep breath and delicately resumed the conversation as if the last comment hadn't even occurred. "I will try to get a bit of her surroundings but I will have to concentrate much more to do so. Alert me if you see anything that strikes you as unique." And with that he brought the crystal up to eye level and began to stare with an intensity that could've burned paper.

Slowly, carefully, Anne watched the exact same image through the other side - it was remarkably like a hologram - as Sarah went from face only to vignette to a full body shot and at last one could see where she really was. Not that it made the slightest bit of difference in the world: she was in a cubicle! A perfectly normal, boring, ordinary, gray cubicle that could literally be in an office right down the street or in downtown Tokyo for all she knew! She's there, somewhere, typing up some kind of report, hmmm... "Get as close to the computer screen as you can, damn she's looking right at it."

"I sincerely hope you can read human script from any direction," he said, carefully trying to pivot the angle. From what little Anna could make out nearly upside-down and on a near-vertical slant, it appeared to be full of equations and scientific terminology. Science? From a notorious right-brainer like that?

J. may be in for a hard time if she's changed that much, Anna reflected. No fantasies there. "Get her full body again."

"Gladly," Jareth commented with a teasing smirk.

Oh give the guy a break, he likes her. Sarah stopped typing, got up and stretched - she'd probably been stuck in there for hours. Among the knick-knacks on her desk were environmental logos, odd bits of unidentifiable machinery and a bumper sticker pinned to the wall of the cubicle that read in big, bold letters "Hey you - out of the gene pool!" Anna got a good laugh out of that one but suddenly stopped cold - in the corner by a picture of who she took to be her family was a functioning clock! It read 12:15. Anna quickly looked away to check the time on her laptop - 2:15. Mountain Standard! "Cross off the east and west coasts; she's on the continental divide somewhere."

"So glad that we can be specific here."

"Oh be quiet, I'm doing the best I can; this is a frickin bland building, there aren't even any windows!"

"Keep trying, then."

His voice struck Anna as oddly calm now, without the bite of sarcasm or wit that it had held before. It must be like meditating. That's why he told me to let him know what's going on, he'll probably be pretty far out by the time this is all over. Sarah took one last look at the computer before hitting save and shutting everything down. Maybe she's on lunch break. Go outside, go outside! She was dressed nicely but it looked comfortable: an olive-green blazer-and-slacks suit with an undyed cotton shirt beneath and a natural-looking necklace with small wood beads, minor gemstones, and tiny shells. Her hair was back in a braid and...yes she's still addicted to those stupid loafers, at least she's not a Birkenstock junkie Anna thought, shaking her head. What on earth does she do for a living? Sarah was now walking with quick and sure strides through a maze of other near-identical cubicles, finally arriving at what appeared to be the break room, stopping to refill her coffee mug and talk to another female employee who, from the facial structure, looked Eastern European. I wish we could hear what they're saying; it would really help right about now. I wonder... Jareth didn't even seem to notice her suddenly close proximity as Anna leaned in and in a low voice murmured right in his ear "Give me the dream crystal now."

"Not on your life." His face hadn't changed one bit. Anna suddenly felt herself sat up straight by some invisible force.

Whoa, he can't take a joke, either.

Jareth sighed. "In the name of your near-blasphemous devotion to me, please try to remain serious. I will need your complete cooperation if this is ever going to work. Now...my dear," he said, using the exact tone of voice she had clumsily attempted only moments before, bringing one gloved finger gently but forcefully beneath her chin to direct her gaze - and complete the charm - "...concentrate..." As he withdrew his hand again, Anna felt as if he were taking her heartstrings with him, darn him, adding to the level of compulsion and trust enacted by his voice. Thus relaxed and completely unable to move or look away, Anna watched on. Coffee in hand, Sarah wound her way back to her cubicle, picked up a manila envelope stuffed with papers that was sitting on the desk next to her computer and headed off in a different direction this time, finally coming to a straight passage, suggesting the edge of the room. It was definitely a strange building from what of it Anna could see in the edges of the crystal: it was almost intensely bright in places but from the shadows one could clearly see that there were tons of skylights, but they were positioned with precision for maximum effect. There seemed to be radiators not only at a surprisingly regular interval in the floor but also in large structural columns, often facing in four different directions.

How odd. Just how big is this place? Anna caught her breath when Sarah opened a door and strode into a conference room with huge near-floor length windows in three of the walls - there was a large mountain range in the backdrop! Snow was still on some of the highest purple peaks. On the side of one particular mountain was a big white letter 'M'. The name of the town? A college maybe? Still too vague but we're finally getting somewhere - the Rocky Mountains are in plain sight! ...so that leaves Colorado, Wyoming and Montana that might look like this at this time of year if she's still in the states. Only five addresses to pick from! Come on, just a little bit more... The conference room seemed to be hosting a car company of all things as various presenters showed diagrams, computer models and... yes, solar panels! When it was Sarah's turn to present, she took a different route around the table to not get in the way of the overhead projector, passing the back wall. And on this wall was a plaque and a small sculpture diorama dedicated to GELA. Finally!

"Jareth," - she tasted the name more than said it - "I have what we're looking for. ...can I ...move again so I can research an acronym?"

He didn't respond right away.

"...If you insist," he deeply intoned.

Suddenly released, Anna blinked in surprise and eyed him with a healthy amount of suspicious caution. Okay, you have way too much fun with the control thing. Good luck, Sarah - you're going to need it. Picking up the laptop again, Anna looked up GELA and quickly discovered that it stood for Green Energy Laboratories of America and was most likely the branch in Golden, CO, built right into the side of a mesa. Ranging from solar to wind to alternate fuels, the lab played host to a vast array of companies at any given time while posing as an environmentalist poster-child group in the process. Apparently quite a lot of what went on up there was strictly hush-hush and under lock, key, and electric barbed wire. Anna couldn't help but wonder what they were really doing in there. Don't be silly, it's a government operation, of course they're going to be fuzzy in the details. Looks like she's got herself one hell of a job...and she commutes in from Denver every day, there it is... "Hey J., I've got what you're looking for," Anne teased in a sing-songy fashion.

Reluctantly Jareth tore his eyes away from the crystal, letting it disintegrate into glitter in his hand, looking back at it in regret before acknowledging Anna again.

He must really miss her; he's just putting on a brave front.

"Yes?"

"This one," she pointed on the screen.

"Well, I must thank you for your time an kind assistance, but I must be on my way..." He stood up.

"Hey, wait a minute! Aren't you forgetting something?"

His features took on a look of surprised remembrance. "...of course!" And with that he touched both of his eyelids with one hand, making the marks disappear, and then ran both hands down the full length of his hair, smoothing it straight - slightly more normal-looking by human standards, but only slightly.

"I meant your end of the bargain," Anna said levelly.

He feigned hurt innocence. "Whatever do you mean?"

"Do I or do I not get that dream crystal? I gave you her full address just like you said."

"Now that was never a promise, you should've gotten it in writing. Better luck next time," he teased as he took a few paces backwards and began to vanish.

"JARETH!"

"Catch this!"

And with no further warning he pitched a crystal right past her! Anna ran and caught it just before it hit the ground, diving after it as if it were something more precious than the Hope Diamond - and not the sleep spell that it was; the moment it grazed the tips of her fingers it absorbed and she was out cold on the grass. Jareth rematerialized beside her unconscious form, scooped her up gently as one would carry a small child, strode back to the tree, and lay her down beneath it. She would remember none of what had transpired in the past hour, or that he had ever been there, when she awoke. For the time being, however, there was a small smile on her face as she dreamt of the aforementioned rock god, in his prime of youth, lavishing his attentions upon her in a most vivid and unrelenting fashion. Jareth mentally rolled his eyes a bit at her choice of dreams - she could've had anything and she chooses this fellow - but if that was how she regarded the actor who played him in that 'movie', in her darkest fantasies she would continue to secretly wish that he was real, that he had power, doing him more good than she would ever know.

His purpose finally accomplished, Jareth turned to go but something odd stayed him - a small twinge of guilt he wasn't quite ready to own up to. "Great time to be growing a conscience," he muttered to himself as he turned back and set up a quick shield spell around her - if anyone got within five feet of her from any direction while she was unconscious, they would find themselves face-to-face with an invisible and impenetrable wall. It was designed to vanish the moment she awoke. As much as he would've liked to stick around to watch that idiot of a boy who had a crush on her try to get through - he would no doubt return when she would fail to call upon him in a few hours - Jareth had his own date with destiny to keep and he wasn't about to miss it for the world.


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