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Locks and Keys

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It was three in the afternoon, and Sarah and Jareth were unanimously voted the two most suspicious people in the building.

“Are you sure that's how you do it?” asked Sarah, eying Jareth critically.

“I've been doing this for years, I know what goes where!” said the man airily, adjusting his fingers.

“This is taking forever! Just put it in already.”

“Don't teach me how to pick locks!”

Sarah rolled her eyes, watching Jareth struggle with some hairpins, trying to force them in and wiggle them around the lock.

“We could just call the super,” she said.

Jareth cast her a dirty look and went back to messing around with the lock. Though the two had initially gotten off to a rocky start that morning, things had evened out a bit after Jareth's hangover had subsided a little bit and Sarah had changed into something less... morning after. They looked like quite the pair. The stark contrast of “glittery hooker” and “I probably slept in this ” really set the scene of two unlikely burglars.

“Or are you an independent stripper who don't need no key?”

“What I need,” ground out the man, “If for you to shut up and let me break in in peace.”

And that's when someone down the hallway started screaming.

Sarah jumped. Jareth dropped his hairpins and started swearing. It was a little old lady, standing just outside of apartment 306, holding two cats and looking like she was ready to singlehandedly take on a platoon of Nam veterans.

“Break in! Break in!” she screeched in a voice banshees would kill for, “Put your hands where I can see them!”

“Ma'am!” said Sarah, quickly following instructions, “Ma'am, it's alright! Please, listen t-”

“I don't have to listen to you, you're a hooligan!”

Jareth rolled his eyes and went back to picking the lock.

“Ma'am, I am your neighbor! And so is he!

The lady squinted, “I don't believe you.”

“You don't have to believe me, but he lives here!”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“I don't believe you.”

Sarah felt a headache coming on. Jareth dropped his pins. His stream of consciousness cursing got louder, then quieted down to a mumble again.

The old woman looked like she was about to burst, “Tell your partner to stop that!”

“My partner?”

“Stop what?”

“The... the crime! He still has the audacity to continue picking that lock!”

Jareth gave her a once over that could make RuPaul cry, “Lady, I live here.”

“I don't believe you!”

“Well then call the superintendent! It's not that hard.”

The lady squinted at them like one does at the sun. Or a particularly disgusting-looking meal.

“That's exactly what I'm planning on doing!”

“Good god, then do it!” yelled Jareth, waving a pin in the air.

“I am!”

“Great!”

“Good!”

***

The super showed up twenty minutes later, wearing a ridiculous hat with a red bird on top of it. The old man looked like he hadn't slept in two years and hadn't washed in three. Anyone not familiar with him would likely think he was a hobo who had accidentally wandered in and jacked a cup of tea from someone. And yet he had that look of wisdom that comes with age, the key to every apartment, and a paranoid mind, so the powers that be let him keep his job.

“He says he lives here!” complained the old lady, holding her cat in much the same way one would hold a rifle (the cat looked very uncomfortable).

The superintendent gave Jareth a long, soul piercing look that lasted a good five minutes.

Sarah looked on hopefully. As did the cat lady. Jareth stared forlornly at the stubborn lock.

“Yep,” said the super, “He lives here.”

With that, the old man turned around and shuffled away.

“You heard what he said,” growled Jareth, fiddling with pins, “Now shoo. Skedaddle. Fly. Go feed your cats.”

The woman gave them one last dirty look and vanished back into the depths of her apartment.

***

“It's alright,” said Sarah, rather convincingly, to a worried looking young woman with a very large pile of groceries, “He lives here.”

***

Half an hour and seven broken hairpins later, the door was finally open.

“Sarah,” said Jareth, looking into the woman's eyes.

“Yes, Jareth?”

“I... I want you to have this.”

Gently, he took her hand, wrapped in his own, and deposited something in it with a clink.

A couple moments of silence, then:

“Jareth.”

“Yes?”

“What... is this?”

“That's the key to my apartment.”

“It looks... inappropriate.”

“Don't ask questions, love. Just keep it in case I get locked out again.”

“I'm shocked you trust me so much.”

“Do I really have a choice?”

***

The key came in useful two weeks later when Jareth showed up at Sarah's door around three in the morning, wearing a slinky red dress and singing the Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of his lungs.