Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Sarah, past Jareth/Sarah, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog 84: Rumor
Warning(s): Future Fic, AU
Word Count: 1,755
Date Written: 23 September 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Henson, not the author, and are used without permission.
She keeps expecting the terrain to feel strange. Sometimes it does. Sometimes, there is no terrain, only water or even just air, but most of the time, it feels like any other hard surface underneath her booted feet. This one is one of those. It feels -- it looks -- just like Earth if Earth had never been touched by mankind. Of course, it should as this planet is the one, out of all the ones she’s ever learned about or discovered herself in other galaxies, that is the most like her own home world.
Except that there are times, like now, when Sarah thinks of home and doesn’t think of Earth. She thinks of a land that is untouched by man and that no other mortal has ever discovered, or so she thinks. She thinks of a land over which she could have ruled, over which perhaps she should have ruled, but where she’s only been one in her life.
When she first returned, she talked to everyone who would listen, but they all thought she was nuts. She learned to keep the legend to herself. Mankind will only believe as much as each individual chooses to believe regardless of any proof set before them. She knows that too well. After all, how many times has she been asked about little, green men? And how many times has she bitten her tongue and forced down her smiles and laughter and forced away her memories of the Goblins before society can shun her again, laugh at her again, lock her up, and perhaps even throw away the key this time?
There are always rumors, Sarah knows. There are rumors that they’ve already discovered alien life. There will be a thousand plus rumors about this one planet before she can return home or, at least, to what passes for home, even if it never feels like it any longer. There are rumors, too, that they never landed a man on the moon, that the astronaut program is just another way for the government to steal money from the taxpayers, and that the moonwalk was just another elaborate hoax. Sarah’s met people, throughout her own work with the program, who could have been set on the moon itself and still would have refused to believe they could reach the moon no matter what proof was placed before them. In the end, she knows, mankind will only belief what it chooses to believe.
As for herself, there is little she believes in that she can not, and has not, touched for herself, but she has touched other beings. She’s tentatively touched a Fairy’s wing and been bitten in return. She’s held hands with a Dwarf and hugged a beast. She’s talked with an intelligent, purple worm. She’s fought wild creatures that defied imagination and all laws of physics and kicked Goblins. She’d stood on rocks summoned forth by a monster who was a friend and one of the nicest, sweetest beings she’s ever met. She’s danced with a man who could stop time, and who stopped heartbeat with just one glance.
She sighs, remembering. Searching for what she has found and lost is exactly what brought her into the space program. Being an actress had held little sway over her imagination after she had discovered first hand what it was truly like to be loved, to be feared, and to be revered. She couldn’t simply begin to be a member of other worlds and other lives when all she wanted was the one she had been given and declined. She’s reconsidered her decision so many times over the years, but although she regrets it, she still can not find another answer. She’d had to save Toby, and there had been only one way she could do it. She had given up everything she’d held dear to save a little boy who had never been cherished by her until that fateful night.
Now she can’t find anything for which she searches every day of her life. She’s called him. She’s begged and pleaded to the stars, to the night air, to the moon even as she walked across its face. She’s left her bedroom window open every night and stopped, listened carefully, and scrutinized the area even more intensely with her eyes every time she’s thought she’s heard a slithering sound but saw no source of it. She’s done everything she can except sacrifice another life to him.
And yet she would give it all up. She would give up her famous career, her life on Earth, all her family and friends if only he would come again, but what she can not give, she fears, is the one thing that would bring him to her again. She can not sacrifice another life to find her happiness and love again.
Thus she had taken to the stars to try to find him, her misplaced King. He had claimed that his world was the Underground, but there was nothing in the soil of the Earth but rocks, mud, lava, and more rocks. But Jareth and his subjects were not of her world. If they were not in the Earth itself, then they must belong to another planet, another world, somewhere.
Sarah’s shoulders sag, and she sighs again. She had hoped, genuinely hoped, that she would find them here, that she would find him here, but as she walks among trees that seem to dwarf those of Earth and through grassy meadows where the grass is a light greenish blue and swaying gently in an alien breeze, she finds no sign of life.
Her intercom buzzes. It’s her ship calling her home. Sarah sighs again and lowers her head in dejection. She should have known better. For all the rumors, for all the stories, for all the lies both made up by and of the government, of all the worlds they’ve travelled, they have yet to find any life forms beyond Earth.
Tears well in Sarah’s dark eyes, but she forces them down. She had hoped that this mission would be the one. She had prayed the critics would be wrong this time. She had begged and pleaded to any invisible soul that might listen when noone else had been around that she would finally find her missing loved ones here.
They’d promised they would never desert her, but they had. They had kept coming for a while after she had returned to Earth. She had even whispered to Sir Didymus and Ludo of her intense regrets. She had pleaded for another chance, but he had not given her one. She could not give him the child he needed to escape, and so he could not give her another chance.
Another chance to do what?, she might think, if she had not known better what her second choice would be. She wouldn’t hurt him this time; she wouldn’t hurt them both this time. She would not deny her heart, or his, another time. But she also could not sacrifice the life he needed to be set free.
She wonders sometimes if perhaps he had learned her friends had been visiting her and had stopped those visits. His wrath had been a terrible sight to behold, and yet even when she had angered him, she had also been enthralled by him. No one else had ever had such a pull on her. No one else had ever touched her heart and soul so deeply. No one else had ever made her feel like she was the greatest treasure in the galaxy, or made her feel so complete.
Her intercom buzzes again. Sarah bats away her tears, not daring to open her helmet to actually wipe them away with her fingertips. She does press her intercom, however, and mumble a reply. She’ll come back again. She’ll return once again to a world of which she no longer feels a part. She’ll come home -- to their home, not to hers, because she has yet to earn another invitation to her home.
Her head hangs as she turns round and retraces the steps she’s just made. She remembers to set down a flag into this new world, making it for her country. Then she does what she’s said she would and goes back to a place where she no longer wishes to be. She goes back to the world that’s supposed to be her home, all the while missing the voices that whisper where she longs to be.
“Is she coming?”
“She never did meet the Missus.”
“Bah! She’s never coming back! She’s never gonna meet your missus!”
“Now, now, Sir Hoggle. There is no need for such contempt.”
“She lied to us all, Didymus!”
“The fair maiden did not lie! She merely did not sacrifice another’s life for her own happiness.”
“Excuses. All excuses!”
“Sarah . . . home?”
“I’m afraid not, my brother, not today.”
“That’s enough of that now, Sir Hoggle!”
“Why she not come back?” one of the Goblins asks.
“Because,” another voice answers, “because she did not say the words.”
“She can not say the words!”
“Not without sacrificing another’s life,” Sir Didymus yips, “and if she did that, she would not be our fair Queen!”
“SILENCE, ALL OF YOU!” their King roars out at them. Fieries, Goblins, Dwarves, and Faeries all scamper away. The beast howls but goes to be with his friends, the rocks. The Knight pats his shoulder and takes off to find another adventure on his loyal steed.
At last, Jareth is left alone, a tear made of pure crystal sliding down his handsome face. “Ah, Sarah,” he whispers, his gloved fingers caressing her form in one of his numerous crystal balls. “They are right, of course. You’re never coming home. You’ll never make the needed sacrifice, and without that sacrifice, I can not open my world to you. My world! Bah! As if it is such!! Not without you at my side, my Queen. Not without you!”
As Sarah’s ship lifts away from the strange world, a rain starts to fall. The drops are different, smaller and more crystalline on this planet. Sarah presses her fingers to the ship’s window as she watches them and wonders. They drift, blue and green, almost crystalline in appearance, and she’s reminded of another pair of blue and green that had looked almost crystal. His face shines in her mind, and she closes her eyes and weeps silently as she closes yet another door of possibilities never seen.