Take the Lead or Let Me Bleed
Summary: Jareth "accidentally" kidnaps Dawn, so Spike, Willow, and Sarah journey to the Underground to rescue her.
Spoilers: thru season 6 of Buffy and (of course) the movie Labyrinth.
Not mine, you know. Some of them belong to Joss Whedon, and the others plus a few muppets belong to the Jim Henson Company, Lucasfilm, and Terry Jones.
She awoke with a start. Gasping for air. She was drenched in sweat, and her heart was pounding. She'd dreamed that dream again. The one that had ultimately driven everyone away. Well, driven her husband away at least. Whispering another man's name in your sleep was never healthy in a relationship, so she had been left to her nightmares... her regrets long ago. They were in surround sound with smells and feelings and the most haunting melody. That damn song was reverberating in her brain. She couldn't forget it. The one they danced to. It made her skin hum some nights.
Sarah walked to the window and peered out into the night. Another new town. Another fresh start. Maybe Sunnydale, California could cure her of her nightmares. Cure her of the feeling that he was coming back. The feeling of dread was growing. It had intensified with the abandonment of her husband. She couldn't forget the dance. With another man. When she was hardly more than a child.
He'd cursed her with his touch. She knew it.
Dawn awoke with a start.
Such a strange dream. Why was she dreaming about owls anyway? Too much Harry Potter? Mega weird. She got up and walked to the window. Right before she reached it, the pane flew up and a gust of wind filled the room. The curtains blew back with the force of it. Dawn jumped as a white owl fluttered into her bedroom. It swooped about her head, and Dawn started screeching and waving her arms.
When she took her arms away from her head and looked up, there was a guy standing in her room. He was all leather bondage-looking in this tight suit and cape with a giant collar. It was the collar to end all collars. And his pants. She didn't know they made pants that tight. And the cut of them seemed to put great emphasis on his crotch. He had super Dr. Spock eyebrows and was wearing a ton of eye makeup. His hair was blonde and spiky. It was all different lengths and stuck out in a crazy way. Some pieces of it were so long they hung halfway down his back.
It's not that he wasn't attractive, because he was - in this strange way. It was that he was in her room in the middle of the night, and she didn't know him. The semi-cute ones could be evil too. Look at Spike. Very hot, also very evil once.
"Shh. Now, Dawn. Don't be so with me. Can't have my Goblin Queen act in such a manner."
Dawn gaped. "Goblin queen? Excuse me? What are you babbling about?" Dawn rolled her eyes. "Did Xander summon you? It was a mistake if he did. He means well Xander, he really does, but sometimes... arg. What's with all the otherworldly guys wanting to make me their bride? Are you a demon? Because I have this rule about marrying demons from other dimensions. This one... cool. Other dimensions... no. And besides I'm only fifteen. So not old enough to be married yet. Twenty-first century, child brides so not cool anymore."
"I suppose that approach won't work. It was worth a try. I don't really want a child bride. You're quite right. It's not well done."
"So why'd you say that?"
"Sometimes it works."
"Fair enough. So what do you REALLY want?"
"I'm just going to borrow you, girl. I'll bring you right back."
"Let us be off to my city."
Dawn raised her eyebrow. "I thinking not so much, hairboy."
"You will not defy me, Dawn."
"Oh?" She gave him a look of pure defiance. "BUFFY!!"
Willow trudged into the room sleepily. "She's on patrol, Dawny. Why are you yell..." Her words died off as she saw the guy standing next to Dawn's window.
"A witch." He whispered. "One that has recently danced in the dark."
Willow stiffened. She was wide awake now. Dawn tried to move to her side, but the guy grabbed her arm and yanked her back. Dawn screamed in shock. Willow lunged forward only to have her forehead tapped lightly by his gloved hand.
Willow tried not to. She really did. Buffy was on patrol, and she had to prove that she could be trusted again. But as soon as his hand touched her, she had felt the overwhelming urge to go right back to sleep. Right then and there. So she did.
Dawn watched in horror as Willow's eyes flickered closed, and the redhead fell into a sleeping heap on the floor. The guy looked down at Dawn and grinned.
"We SHALL NOT!" Dawn spat. She tried to yank her arm out of his hand to no avail.
"So fiery. A fine challenge you'll make." He was smiling wickedly at her. "I'm Jareth, by the by."
"Listen, britboy, if you don't take your hands off me, my sister is so gonna kick your pale ass!"
"Assuming this sister of yours can find us."
And with that they were gone from the room. The scream Dawn let out faded into nothing but a whispery echo.
Sarah bolted upright with a hoarse scream. Her hand pressed to her heart as if that would calm its rapid beating. It had been different this time. He'd taken a girl. She'd seen it. Sarah knew this one wasn't just a dream. She threw herself out of bed and got dressed quickly.
Because she'd seen the house number in her vision. 1630 Revello Drive. In this town. This city. He'd taken someone not two blocks from the house she'd just bought. She couldn't believe it.
Spike was sitting on the curb across from the Summers house. He'd been back for a week now. He couldn't bring himself to let them know. He kept seeing that look on Buffy's face after what had transpired in the bathroom. It had been replaying in his head all summer.
It hadn't hurt him like it was doing now before. His demon self had just been trying to make her feel. He'd been so crazy with it, he hadn't realized how much force he'd been using. It was only in reflection he saw the whole picture. Demons were violent creatures. He'd been violent with her. He saw it now. Clearly. Perhaps she was right. She could not feel for him. He couldn't even bring himself to feel for him at the moment, so what chance did he stand with the slayer? But that had always been his 'William' downfall. Always wanted the girl that was just out of reach. Just enough above him that there was no hope of attaining her. Spike was so very deep in his thoughts he almost didn't see the woman.
She wandering the street, looking at all the houses. She seemed as lost in her thoughts as he had been. She stopped in front of the slayer's house. She seemed frozen. He peered closer. She was shaking like a leaf in the wind with her arms wrapped about herself. Spike decided to investigate.
"This is no place for walking, pet."
She didn't even seem to realize he'd spoken. "He's taken her."
"He who has taken her who?"
Just then the door flew open, and Willow rushed out screaming. "Dawn!"
"Spike!" Willow rushed up to him and grabbed his arms. "This guy... this guy put the whammy on me and took Dawny!"
Spike officially started to panic. Someone had key-napped the bit? "Who?"
Willow shrugged. "He was all freaky in this hot kind of way, and he had this spiky-funky long blonde hair and arch-y brows with lots of eye makeup. He was all leather bondage with tight pants and boots and stuff."
"Well, with that description he shouldn't he hard to find."
"It was Jareth, the Goblin King." A bewildered voice said. "She's not here anymore. He's taken her to the city beyond the labyrinth."
Spike and Willow both turned to the woman standing next to them. Willow hadn't even noticed her until now.
Spike was trying not to gape as the woman told her story. Under the muted, yet warm glow of the lights in the Summers' kitchen. She really was lovely. He found it hard to believe she was in her thirties. Early thirties yes, but still. Her skin was pale, but not white. Peaches and creme. Flawless, lovely. She had long brown hair and eyes that changed from green to gray. They were sad eyes. As if she were a bit haunted by something. After hearing condensed version of her tale, Spike supposed she was, haunted that is. She'd been touched by a bit of magic. It was hard to go back to normal life after that. He was definitely understanding a bit of that. He sure as hell knew Willow was. He wanted desperately to get her alone to ask the redhead why SHE looked so haunted.
But they had other matters to attend to first. This thing that had taken Dawn had taken Sarah's little brother once. This creature that she'd faced.
Willow couldn't believe it. She sat stunned after Sarah had finished her story of the journey through the labyrinth to the Goblin City. She'd done that as a teenager. Willow was shocked. Then again after meeting and befriending Buffy, she'd done some pretty amazing things when she was just a bit older than Sarah had been.
"So how do we get Dawn back?"
"We journey to the Goblin City, I suppose." Sarah said shakily. She was terrified of facing down Jareth again. He'd nearly won the last time. What if he had gotten stronger? God knew she was weaker now. She could face him. Would. He couldn't just pop into this world a kidnap young girls. So long as Sarah didn't dance with him, she'd be quite fine.
"Yes, getting that. But how?"
Willow's voice jarred Sarah back into the now. "Do you have a mirror?"
Willow led Sarah upstairs. Spike followed.
Dawn paced the tower room she was in. She felt just like frigging Rapunzel. Only she didn't have the escape hair. She paced the room wondering when in the hell Buffy was going to show up and kick Jareth's Goblin Kinged ass.
Not that he was a bad guy. Other than locking her up, he'd been really nice. He'd given her a closet full of clothing. All dresses, but hey, right? There was velvet and silk and satin. Even a dress of deep blue suede. She had jewelry and food. He'd given her several books to read. They were ALL fairy tales, but he'd given her books. The guy got points for that. At least he knew what a book was.
But Dawn still wanted to go home.
She couldn't be without Buffy. Jareth's announcement that she would be put to use in two days time was a little worrisome. Buffy needed to hurry her slayer ass up and get to making with the rescue.
Of course that didn't stop Dawn from casing the entire tower and trying to devise a rescue of her own. She was a Summers after all. They were not idle girls and not ones to just accept their fate in a bad situation. It was in all her pacing and glaring at the wardrobe that the mother of all bad plans formed inside that normally smart brain of hers.
"Spike, what are you doing here?" Willow finally asked.
The three of them were standing before the full-length mirror in Willow's room.
"It's the niblet. I'm going with you two. But maybe we ought to wait for the slayer. Call the others."
Sarah smiled at him. She was grateful for any company on the road to the Goblin City. Anyone who might help her remember who she was once she was within Jareth's reach. She just didn't know how she would react to him after almost fifteen years.
"No." Willow said in slight panic. "I can't let Buffy know I failed her again."
"And I'm not sending the two of you off to face this Goblin King wanker alone."
"I faced him alone." Sarah smiled a withered smile. "He has no power over me." Oh if only that were true now. It had been quite true back in the day, but now she wasn't so sure.
Spike gave Willow an alarmed look. He didn't like the dazed look Sarah got in her eyes whenever she mentioned this Goblin King. He'd feel better if he could watch both women with his own eyes.
"Perhaps it would be nice to have you along, Spike."
Sarah ran her fingertips along the glass. "Hoggle?" She whispered.
Spike gave Willow another look that clearly said 'what a loony'.
"Ludo? Sir Didymus? Are you there? I need you."
It was utterly silent for several minutes.
Willow screamed when a hand shot out of the glass and grabbed Sarah by her throat. Sarah struggled in vain to get the hand to release her, but it was no luck. As it began to pull her into the glass, Willow latched onto the older woman and tired to pull her back. She was vaguely aware of Spike's arms around her waist as they were all pulled into the glass.
Jareth appeared in Dawn's chamber, quite ready to verbally spar with the girl again. She had quite the mouth on her. Too bad he couldn't tell her why she was really there. If the girl knew the truth, Jareth was certain, Goblin King or not, she'd try to scratch his eyes out of his head. She was very feisty. Not unlike another young girl he had known what seemed like a very long time ago.
He shook his head to clear it. Wouldn't do to be thinking about HER. It had been so long ago. She was grown and had likely forgotten all about him. He, however, would never forget her. He had never had such a worthy opponent. To think he'd expected her to give in before she even started. He shook his head again. Best to stop NOW. He always got in a mood when he thought of her. He didn't want to be sulky when he faced Dawn. It was a rather unfortunate turn that he was actually starting to like this girl. It was too bad he'd have to do what he was planning, but he didn't have much of a choice.
Jareth was quite shocked to find the chamber empty.
Nothing. His eyes caught something odd. There was a line of clothing knotted together. It was tied to the bed and went out the window. Every dress in the wardrobe. Jareth growled and rushed to the ledge. The makeshift rope almost reached the ground. She was loose in the labyrinth. The little twit thought to escape him, did she? Well, she'd soon see how that was not a possibility.
Plus there was the little matter of finding her before his other 'guest' did. The things that woman had been talking about doing to the little girl since Jareth had brought her here. It gave him, him the Goblin King, the shivers. He didn't get the shivers. Ever. But that crazy loon who wanted the little girl made him tremble a bit.
So he had to find Dawn first.
Sarah landed hard on the ground. She winced when Willow landed on her and winced again when Spike landed on the both of them. Spike had immediately rolled off and helped both women to their feet.
"You all right, Red?" He asked as he dusted Willow off.
Willow batted his hands away. "Fine." She snapped.
"Sarah?" Spike asked.
Sarah was looking around. A familiar feeling settled upon her. "We're in the labyrinth."
Spike looked around. "Where in the labyrinth?"
"Stone walls. Hmmm. Somewhere near the beginning, I'd say. Unless Jareth changed the labyrinth, which would not shock me."
"So we've no clue where we are. Perfect." Spike mumbled.
Willow was intently watching Sarah. The woman seemed more focused here. Intent on the quest, which was good, but Willow got the feeling that there was something about this Jareth guy that Sarah was keeping from them.
Sarah started walking. She could feel Willow's suspicion. The redhead was right to be suspicious. Sarah was holding out on her. She hadn't mentioned the dance.
"So tell me about you two." Sarah tried cheerfully.
She was trying to change the subject that had not even been spoken. Willow decided she would allow the woman to do so now for now, but she would find out what Sarah was keeping from them eventually. "Who do you want to know about first? Me or Spike here?"
"You know, I'm curious." Spike said sincerely. "Ladies, first."
"Where do I start?"
"Start with when you met the slayer. That's when the real story begins, init?"
Sarah looked at him. "Slayer?"
"In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the demons, vampires, and forces of darkness. She is the slayer. Blah blah blah..."
Willow giggled. "It's a little more complicated with our slayer than that, and you know it, Spike."
Sarah smiled. She was already beginning to like the two of them. "So uncomplicate it for me, Willow. Start with the... slayer, was it?"
"Her name's Buffy, and she's one of the best friends I've ever had."
Spike made a gagging noise. He was just trying to cover up the goofy smile he'd gotten on his face when Willow referred to Buffy as their slayer. She included him. It felt nice.
Dawn was running through a maze of hedges. It was dark, and she didn't even know if she was going in the right direction. She rounded a corner quickly and almost smacked right into Jareth. Dawn skidded to a stop with a gasp.
"Going so soon?"
Dawn turned and ran. Only to find him blocking her path yet again.
"Dawn, look, I lied to you. It's not safe for you to be out here, my dear. You have to come back with me to the tower."
"Dawn, please." He whispered. He held out his hand for her.
"Well, what have we here?"
All the hair on Dawn's neck stood on end. That was a voice she never thought she'd hear again. Dawn turned slowly and faced her enemy. "Glory."
"Hey, Dawny." Glory's eyes flashed at the Goblin King. "Jareth, baby, you weren't about to let my key escape, were you?"
"I would watch your tone, madam."
"Rowr. Look who's not down with the plan anymore. You like her, don't you? Everyone likes little Dawny. She's great." Glory yelled in pain.
Jareth gaped as she turned into a man. He hadn't been aware that she could shift her form like that.
"Ben?" Dawn asked.
Ben looked at Jareth. "Get her the hell out of here! Glory lied! It WILL kill the girl!" He screamed in pain and fell to his knees before he morphed back into Glory.
Jareth wasted no time. He grabbed Dawn and the two of them disappeared.
"Damn you, Ben." Glory growled. "I'll get her anyway. I don't need him. I'm going home this time."
They had stopped to rest for a minute. Sarah couldn't believe the tale they'd told her. No wonder they accepted her tale of the labyrinth with hardly a bat of the eyes. She hadn't been concerned about it at the time, but now as she reflected they had not even questioned her. She wasn't used to that about everyday things, much less fantastical ones. She liked them. They had argued so many points of the story. Their opinions seemed to differ greatly on someone named Angel. Sarah just liked hearing them talk. It was nice to have people talk to her. And Spike had such a lovely accent. She liked an accent on a man.
Willow sat down on something and screamed when she fell through it.
"Red!" Spike rushed for where she had fallen only to encounter a drop himself.
"WILLOW! SPIKE!" Sarah was horrified.
"MOTHER FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!" Spike's yell got further and further away.
Sarah gasped and took a step backwards in fear. She stepped into air. Sarah screamed as she went plummeting herself.
Willow could hear Spike's and Sarah's screams as they fell. Willow continued a long wail until she slowed. She was in the strangest predicament. All these hands were holding her up.
Several of the hands formed a face. "Hello."
"Um, could you..."
Other hands formed a separate face. "Up or down?"
"She chose down...." Another assortment of hands said in a singsong voice.
Willow screamed as they let her go.