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Something Precious

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Sarah stood in the kitchen washing dishes as her father gave her his instructions.

"I will be gone exactly 3 days Sarah. Do NOT attempt to leave this house. There will be a bodyguard staying in the guest room downstairs as per usual. The police will be making regular passes by the house to make sure everything is quiet. Do as I say and I'll bring you a present. Disobey me and..you know what happens. Don't make me mad again Sarah. I don't like to punish you." Robert stated, shaking his finger.

Sarah knew different. The gleam in his eyes as he struck her told her the truth.

He put an arm around her waist and her skin crawled but she stood still. If she tried to squirm away it made him upset. He breathed her scent in. "You are my girl Sarah. Mine. You belong to me until I say otherwise."

He backed away and turned. "I'm leaving as soon as the guard arrives. He comes highly recommended."

Sarah nodded as she blinked her tears back. She always hoped she would be able to flee when her father left town but of course he hired a guard every time.

"Yes...Daddy." She said, using his preferred term. She finished the dishes and dried her hands then went into the living room and turned on the television, staring at it unseeing.

A few minutes later the doorbell rang. Her father went to the surveillance screen next to the door and hit the button.

"Are you the guard, Mr. Smith?"

"Yes, Mr. Williams." Came smooth accented voice from the speaker.

Sarah's whole body was on high alert when the guard spoke. That voice. She knew that voice. Why was it familiar?

Her father unlocked the doors and opened them letting the man in. He was wearing a plain dark suit, well made and perfectly cut. He had short but spiky hair and a tall slim build with a goatee. He had an earring in one ear and looked rather rakish.

Sarah gaped at him. He was gorgeous. She clamped her mouth shut before her father saw her notice the man at all. This was not the usual type of man he hired for the job. They were typically large bulky men who could strongarm her if necessary.

"I believe the security firm sent you my references Mr. Williams." The man said smoothly.

Robert nodded. "Yes. You come highly recommended. You were informed of the details right? My daughter..she was very traumatized by the murders of my wife and son. She is severely agoraphobic and needs constant watching so she does not hurt herself. You must make sure all doors stay locked at all times and that she does not leave. If she leaves she will do harm to herself or someone else. Make sure she takes her medication."

Sarah just sat there and listened to her father tell lie after lie. She knew she wasn't the crazy one but she was the only one that seemed to know the truth.

"Understood Sir. She will be quite safe while you are gone. I would let nothing harm a hair on your precious daughter's head."

Sarah's whole body tingled at that phrase. Something about his tone when he said "precious" gave her goosebumps and she shivered.

"Very good. Well then, I will leave." Robert said, pulling the man close and speaking low. "One last thing. Lay one hand on my daughter and I will make sure you disappear. She is beautiful, but very very broken. Do not take advantage of that."

The blonde man gave him a small nod. "Of course not. I would never do such a thing as try to seduce a young girl with such infirmities. That would be unprofessional and deplorable."

Robert's wide leering smile reminded both Sarah and the guard of a snake. "Glad we understand each other Mr. Smith."

Robert walked to the couch were Sarah sat saying nothing. "Goodbye my dear, I will see you soon. Remember what I said, I promise I will bring you something pretty from the city."

Sarah let him kiss her on the cheek. not that she had a choice.

"Goodbye Daddy. Have a nice trip." She meant it sarcastically but Robert didn't seem to notice.

Robert left after making sure all doors were locked. He got into the waiting limousine and was gone.

Mr. Smith took a seat on the chair across from her, openly staring at her. It made her uncomfortable.

She looked up from the television she was pretending to watch, seeing he was smiling pleasantly at her.

"What?" She demanded. "Look Mr. Smith, I have no intention of exchanging pleasantries and making friends. Your room is down the hall to the right and a small bathroom is next to it. Just do me a favor and stay away from me. Your job is basically to make sure I don't leave, that I take my pills, and to assure my father I am locked in my room at 10 tonight. Other than that leave me alone."

He smile grew into a wry grin, his eyes sparkling.

Now there is the Sarah I know and love. He thought.

Jareth stood, crossing the room to stand in front of her. He reached out to touch her but she jerked away and glared at him.

"Rule one. Don't touch me. Ever. I hate to be touched."

He could see the naked fear of it deep in her green eyes. Of course. He would have to be gentle.

She looked up and finally noticed his eyes. They were bright blue, One pupil was bigger than the other and she had the distinct impression she had seen them before. She wished she could place it. There was no evil intent, no maliciousness in his eyes at all, just a sort of joyful curiosity and tenderness which was beyond her to comprehend why.

"Miss Williams, will you show me to my room?" He asked softly.

She was reluctant, but nodded, stood, and led him to the room. He opened the door and found it was plain but serviceable. bed, dresser, closet. He laid his duffel bag on the bed and sat.

You don't seem crazy, or infirm." He casually remarked.

She barked out a laugh as she stood in the doorway watching the man arms crossed. "Don't believe everything you hear."

She turned and left him there.
_

Jareth breathed a sigh of relief, he was in. The integration spell The Labyrinth and he had carefully crafted had worked perfectly. Creating a background and planting the seed in everyone's mind around him that he was simply a very experienced bodyguard who worked for the agency Robert used.

As soon as he had stood in front of Robert Williams he wanted to rip the man's heart out. He managed to refrain and even be personable. His fingers had itched with the instinct to kill to protect the girl.

Sarah appeared to find him a bit familiar but did not seem to recognize him. The Labyrinth had told him that years of mind altering medication and abuse had shoved her memories to the back of her mind and she thought them little more than a vague dream. He needed to bring them back into the forefront and get her to trust him as soon as possible. He had his small bag of magic crystals in his possession that would help do any minor bit of magic he absolutely needed but he had to be frugal with their use.

Then when they got out of the house they would have to travel by foot to the place where the door to The Underground was.

Since ancient times, when the world was split into two realms, there were specific places where bridges were created to maintain the connection of the worlds. One was not too far away from Sarah's current home but it was still far enough away to be a fair trip. Without his magic transport that was the only route available to them. They had to get to the doorway.

Once there The Labyrinth could pull them through once it sensed them within. She would be waiting for the alert placed upon the doorway that they were coming through and be there. To get stuck in between was a death sentence for both of them. The beings that lived in between were vile and feasted on living energies of both realms.

Sarah seemed surly and disagreeable, but he knew why that was. He could feel her despair she was covering up. The aching deep within her that was driving her closer to the edge and sucking her strength dry.

He may not have magic but his connection to her was acute this close to her. He must push it to the side and first needed to get her to warm to him, to open herself to the possibility he meant no harm. If she did not trust him she would not leave with him. He supposed getting her to leave the house would not be the problem but getting her to stay with him, to travel to the doorway was the trick. Therein lies the trust he needed.

He took a deep breath and let it out as he rubbed his face with his hands.

He casually walked into the kitchen where she stood. He was floored by the beauty she became. She was stunning. He would have to be careful and not try to show he was attracted to her in a romantic way. That would scare her.

"So Miss Williams, as we are here for the next 3 days, shall we at least try to be civil? If you like, I am quite a fair cook I could make us a nice dinner."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Why are you being nice to me? My father never hires anyone like you."

Jareth shrugged. "I'm a nice man Sarah. Really."

A timer went off and Sarah turned and opened a cupboard. "Have to take my pills. You better be ready to check under my tongue."

He walked over as she was struggling to open the bottle. "Here let me help." He took the bottle out of her hands and stood strategically over the sink. Even without magic he was as strong as many humans combined and it was all for show as he pretended to struggle with the cap. As he turned the lid he squeezed so the bottle cracked and the pills spilled out into the sink filled with dishwater.

He watched as the pills disintegrated in the hot water, satisfied.

Sarah was wide eyed and fearful. "Now what?! Do you know what he will do to me?! I get my blood drawn every week to make sure I have the right level of medication in my system!"

Jareth soothed her. "Don't worry Miss Williams I will tell him it was my fault. I tried to help and the pills getting destroyed was my doing completely. I apologize."

Her eyes was flitting back and forth, not knowing what to say. "Need to get more." She whined a little. Her father was going to punish her severely for this.

Jareth put his hands on her shoulders and she froze. "I swear, Sarah. I will not let anything happen to you. Something tells me you don't need those pills anyway. Am I right?"

Sarah tried not to cry, and bit her trembling lip. "N..no. I swear, Mr Smith, I'm not crazy."

He nodded. "I believe you. You are far too sharp for that. You can trust me alright? I am a nice man. I do not know what kind of people your father has hired in the past, but I was raised to be a gentleman..well mostly." He kept his expression soft, hoping she would be placated.

Sarah's body relaxed slightly and she gave him one small nod. He dropped his hands and backed away. He even saw the corner of her mouth turn up a tiny bit at his last words.

Sarah watched the man closely. She didn't trust him at all. She didn't trust anyone. He seemed..almost kind. For once maybe she could relax for a day or two, just a little bit. If she didn't know better he spilled her pills on purpose. Not that she wanted to take them, but consequences could be dire if she didn't.

He looked so hauntingly familiar. She thought maybe she had dreamed of him once long ago.

She felt a flutter of attraction that honestly disturbed her. She had not thought herself capable of being attracted to anyone anymore.

"So..Mr Smith. You can cook?" She decided to try to see what information she could get out of him.

He smiled. "Yes. I have been in many..situations where I had to fend for myself, so unless I wanted to end up accidentally poisoning myself I made a point of learning to cook. Would you like me to make us a meal to share?"

She gave him a big fake smile..well mostly fake she realized, and agreed.

"Then please take a seat." He bowed and pulled a chair out. She sat and he pushed it in.

She sat at the table and watched him. He rummaged around and found what he was looking for. One thing she could say for her father, he always made sure the kitchen was well stocked.

He put all the things on the counter and turned to her. "Would you like pancakes? I know it's the evening meal, but they are my specialty."

She was surprised at his suggestion. Pancakes were her favorite thing to have for dinner. It had been a tradition when she was young and her mother was alive to have pancakes for dinner on Sunday. After she left then died in a car accident her father wouldn't let Karen make them at all. Her father was lord and master in this house.

That was why her mother had left, she knew.

Sarah practically drooled at the thought. "That would be nice. I guess." She tried to appear nonchalant.

He hummed as he worked, choosing the porcelain cookware over the cast iron. He even added blackberries to the batter. Again her favorite. It made her pause. How did he know all this?

15 minutes later they were both eating a nice stack of fluffy perfect pancakes laden in butter and syrup. Sarah swore she had never tasted anything so wonderful. She couldn't help but smile at him in thanks as she ate.

"So Sarah..are you enjoying your pancakes?" He asked as he watched her eat heartily.

She smiled at him for the first time. Genuinely smiled. He felt his heart squeeze. She was truly beautiful. Her eyes bright and happy. This is what she should always look like.

"They are very good, Mr. Smith. I have to admit, you are a good cook. Why you got into the line of work you are in I'll never know." She answered between bites.

"I have unique skills. I'll put it that way. I was trained in many types of warfare. I can't tell you where or why. Suffice to say, men with my gifts get paid well for their efforts."

Her eyes narrowed. "Have you ever killed anyone?" She blurted out.

He sat his fork down and looked at her. He realized the other so called guards Mr Williams hired must have been shady characters indeed. It was against his instincts to lie to anyone, so he would be truthful as much as it was possible.

"Yes I have. " He said quietly. "But no one who did not deserve to pay with their lives for their actions. Certainly no one near what you could call an innocent. I would never hurt you, Sarah. I swear on my own life. If I knew who hurt your family I would gladly tear them apart with my bare hands. Children are precious. I can not even comprehend such an act."

She stared at him for a long moment swallowing hard. He could see there were unshed tears in her eyes.

"Alright." She replied simply and going back to her food.

Sarah didn't know what else to say. He had answered her with such a look of obvious rage when he spoke of what had happened Toby, she believed him. He was like a coiled spring. It made her wonder exactly what his skills were.

The rest of the meal passed in relative silence. It wasn't that late only a little before 5pm, a bit earlier than she usually had dinner.

After she stood and picked up their dishes and took them to the sink. He got up and followed behind. "Let me help, Sarah." He said, picking up a towel and standing at her side ready to dry them.

Sarah again paused and stared at the man. Was he for real?

She washed each dish and handed them to him. He again started humming as he dried and carefully placed each one symmetrically in the dish rack.

Jareth was happy just being near her again. He knew she was suspicious of his motives of being nice to her. A smile crept onto his face as he worked. He watched her give him odd looks out of the corner of her eye but pretended he didn't notice.

Once the dishes were done Sarah was at a loss. Usually she would just hole up in her rooms upstairs and stay far away from any of the men her father hired to watch over her. She always got the feeling most of them were not nice people, to say the least. They ranged from ignoring her except when necessary to watching her like a hawk. One even kept grinning lecherously the whole time. He gave her the creeps. None were friendly.

"Ummm..do you want to watch a movie?" She asked him.

"That sounds grand. I haven't seen one in ages!" He said. It was true, he hadn't seen an aboveground film since probably the 1950's. "What shall we watch?"

Sarah walked into the living room and opened a large cabinet. There were hundreds of movies there ranging from old to so current they were probably illegal to own. She didn't ask her father where he got them. He just wanted to keep her placated anyway.

"I've seen all of them already, so why don't you pick." She answered gesturing to the rows of DVD cases.

Jareth stepped forward and was almost dizzy at all the names of the films. One caught his eye. "What about that? I've never seen that one. Is it good?" He pulled it out and looked at the picture. It made little sense but it was interesting.

Sarah gave him a long puzzled look. "You've never seen Star Wars? I thought everyone had seen that. It's one of the most popular movies ever."

Jareth had to think quickly. "Well I've lived in some very remote places in my life. Practically another world. Not many movie showing places around."

She continued giving him an odd look. "You mean theaters, right?"

He nodded and left it alone. That's right, humans called theaters.

Sarah got them each a glass of iced tea then put the movie in. She sat in the chair and he sat on the couch directly across from the television so he could see better. She didn't like to sit too closely anyway.

Jareth watched the story play out on the screen dumbfounded most of the time. He had never seen anything like it.

Sarah tried to concentrate on the screen but found herself watching his reactions most of the time. As he watch his eyes were wide, he would jump and gasp at the special effects, and make little comments like "Astonishing!" "Never in my wildest dreams!" "What in the world?"

She started giggling to herself and couldn't help it. Where was this guy from, Mars? He might be proof there's life there after all.

When the end credits rolled she shut the player off. She got up and took the dvd out of the player and back into the case. She noticed Mr. Smith just sat there, blinking.

Jareth couldn't believe how advanced human imaginations had become, he was almost speechless about what he had just seen, and he was not known for being at a loss for words in any occasion.

Sarah turned and faced him. "I take it you enjoyed the movie?" She asked, a small laugh escaping despite herself.

Jareth came out of his daze and stood abruptly. "Yes. I really did. That was all from one man's imagination?"

Sarah nodded. Suddenly she stopped and noticed something. She wasn't afraid or tense. She felt relaxed and almost normal. Dare she say it, she felt a twinge of real joy in her heart for the first time in so long. It scared the shit out of her. She had no idea what it meant.

She snatched up the empty glasses and went and put them in the sink.

Jareth could tell she was relaxing more. Now was the time to start getting her to open up, to trust him. If she would start talking about her past he could bring her memories of him forward and build upon it.

Truthfully, there were more devious, quicker ways to try to get her back to the underground. If he did it though, she would never trust him. She would have no reason to. He wanted to do this the right way. He had less than 4 days now, and 3 full nights. He had to be through the doorway by midnight on 4th night. They would have to leave before Robert came home. He needed her to trust him and willingly leave with him.

He stood and looked around trying to discern something they could do and talk at the same time. It was nearly 7pm he noticed.

He had an idea. He walked into the kitchen to find Sarah just standing there leaning against the counter, her head down.

"Are you alright?" He asked, concerned.

She nodded her head and turned away from him wiping her eyes. She had been crying.

He wanted to take her in his arms but knew she would fight him, so he stopped himself and presented his idea.

"Do you have any games?" He asked.

She turned back, red eyed. Another of those confused expressions on her face. "A couple. I haven't played any in years but there are a few in the back of the hall closet. Next to your room."

He nodded and left the room, going into the closet and finding various coats and shoes. He moved things around until he spied what she had been talking about. Behind a couple of hats and scarves on the top shelf were some long thin boxes. 3 to be exact. He pulled them out and carried them into the kitchen.

"Which do you like? We could pass some time with one." He held them out for her to see.

She didn't say in anything for a few minutes, watching this truly curious man.

She slowly pointed to the Scrabble game on the bottom. "I suppose that would be best. The other two are children's games. I haven't even looked at those since.." He voiced drifted silent but he knew what she wanted to say. She played them with Toby.

He went and put the other two back after setting the selected game on the table.

Sarah sat down and opened the box.

She set up the board and retrieved a piece of paper and a pencil to keep score.

Jareth came back and sat down, trying to figure the game out before they started playing. It was a square board with a grid on it. Sarah handed him a small piece of triangular wood. Copying her he sat it lengthwise in front of him with the small lip pointing up.

She then shook a bag full of small bits and tilted over to him. He looked inside and saw what seemed to be small squares with letters on them. Curious.

"Well aren't you going to pick your seven letters?" She asked after waiting a moment.

"Oh of course!" He answered brightly, like he knew what he was doing. He took seven of the tiles and watched as she also took seven and sat them on the wood facing her. He did the same.

"Do you want go first?" She asked.

"Why don't you go, love? Ladies first." He grinned at her charmingly.

She thought a moment and used her tiles to make a word. Freedom, she spelled. Then she added up the numbers on the corners of the tiles and wrote it down on a piece of paper.

Jareth watched closely. He needed to be able to look like he knew this game. He was still a little unsure so carefully crafted a way to word his question.

"Sarah, would you mind refreshing me on the game please? Just a bit. It's been a very long time."

She explained the rules and he took it all in like a sponge.

Looking at his letters he noticed something. He artfully spelled "Maze" using the and "e" from her word. This could be interesting, he thought. Using the right words he might provoke her memories. He needed to get past the fog those pills had placed over her brain.

"I used to love those." Sarah said as she held out the bag of tiles.

"Mazes?" Jareth asked innocently.

"Yes. Our local park used to have one every year for Halloween. A corn maze. I just realized something." She stopped suddenly, her hand paused in midair. "It's almost Halloween."

Jareth smiled. "It is isn't it? I love Halloween, don't you?"

Sarah sat the bag down and fiddled with her tiles. "I used to. Not anymore. Halloween was when.." Her voiced drifted off.

Jareth could see her eyes moisten and mouth tighten. After a minute she took a deep breath and sighed.

She used the "r" in her first word to spell the word "trapped."

Jareth felt her heart falling and breaking again. He couldn't help himself but to reach and grab her hand and squeeze it. "Everything will be well, Sarah. You must have faith."

She stared at her hand in his. "I don't know what it is to believe in anything anymore." She said her voice barely above a whisper. "Why do you care?" She said suddenly, jerking her hand away. "You're just another lackey working for my father to keep me from getting away."

Jareth understood her distrust. Hey couldn't help but saying something further. "Sometimes things are not quite what them seem, Sarah."

Sarah had no idea what he meant. She had to admit he seemed different than all the others. Even if he was though, she knew she wouldn't get away. She heard her father threaten him.

A few months before the policeman who had helped that night had gone so far to tell her father he was going to report the situation to higher authorities. He had disappeared, her father had told her with a gleeful snarl. She knew if this man tried to help her he would be putting himself in jeopardy. She wouldn't want to be responsible for that.

They played several games, and Jareth managed to work in as many words as he could to remind her of him and her visit to his lands. The played until it was almost 10 minutes to 10pm.

Sarah stood up suddenly and announced she was going to her room.

Jareth stood too. "But we weren't done."

Sarah had for the first time in a long time spent a few waking hours not wanting to scream. When she saw the time however she knew what it meant. Her bedroom doors were on a timer and so was the hidden camera she knew was somewhere in her room.

She also surmised her father had remote access and would know if she wasn't in her room at 10pm. Then he would send one of his other "men" over to check and see what was going on. She didn't want Mr. Smith to get into trouble too.

"You know I have to be in my room at 10 right?" She asked him.

"Well I read the instructions but I assumed..." He started.

"There is no leeway on that, Mr. Smith...Jay. Thank you for being kind to me. It was nice to be a little relaxed for a while. I've got to go." She raced up to her room and he followed her, concerned.

She crossed the threshold at nearly 10pm and turned. He was right behind her. She put her hand up and stopped him from coming into the room.

"Mr. Smith you can't come in here. If this door locks and you are in here with me my father will know. Then we will both suffer. Please." She smiled sadly at him. "You are really nice, but there is nothing you can do. I will see you after 6 tomorrow morning okay?"

Time was ticking. Jareth only had a moment. He saw something on the bookshelf with his keen eyesight. "Alright. What is that red book? It caught my eye." He pointed to the shelf.

Sarah turned and looked. "Oh that. Just an old fairy tale. I found it in the park years ago. I haven't even read it since I was 15. Would you like to read it?"

Jareth shook his head. "No. I recall you said earlier you stopped believing in so much. Maybe you should start with that." He smirked.

Sarah smiled back. "Yeah maybe. I really need you to back away now. Goodnight Mr. Smith." She pushed him back and took a few steps back into the room.

Jareth opened his mouth to speak again but a loud beeping sound started and the door swung shut between them, the last thing he saw were her sad eyes. As he stood there he heard locking mechanisms setting into place.

He leaned against the door. "Goodnight Sarah." He said. He got the feeling she heard him.

He didn't know she was leaning against the other side, curious about the strange man who had entered her life.