Continuing Tales

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 4 of 14

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Twists of Fate

**Another day gone by,** Sarah thought as she once stepped out of the theater and cautiously headed for home. The shows had been especially exhausting today, probably because she'd not slept well the night before. But she'd managed to hold out until the end. She was weary and was exceedingly glad that she was, starting tomorrow, taking her well-earned vacation. Now she had a whole two weeks to vegetate in her apartment rather than a few hours each night. Too bad she didn't have the money to fly home and see her family. Tickets were expensive, and most of her money went into her apartment and into little, unimportant things like food and electric, something neither of her parents seemed to understand.

Well, if they wanted to see her so much they could at least send her some money, or pitch in with the purchase of a ticket. It wasn't like they couldn't afford it. She'd called Toby that morning to wish him a happy birthday, and he'd gushed over his "awesome present" and how much he missed her and when was she coming home to visit again? She'd managed to distract him by asking him about what else he'd gotten, and by the time he'd hung up he'd forgotten his questions.

Sarah sighed, feeling a familiar ache well up. It wasn't homesickness, although she did miss home (although not Karyn's constant nagging). It was something more. That dull ache that never went away, that was now as much a part of her as her own head. It was usually not noticeable when she was working, kind of like the way breathing wasn't noticeable...until you stopped breathing. It had been coming more often as of late, even while she was working, flaring up at the most annoyingly inopportune times...

Sarah was abruptly pulled out of her musings by the pounding of footsteps behind her. A lot of them, by the sound of it. Her heart immediately kicked into overdrive, and she wondered if she had her heart medicine with her. It was something she'd recently started having to take, because the stress of her job...not to mention everyday life...was becoming too much for her to bear. It was possible her heart might give out on her one day without the pills to help calm her. Even though she was in excellent condition healthwise, her doctor had prescribed the pills for her, just in case a situation of extreme stress came up.

Sarah snuck a quick glance over her shoulder, then turned around again with wide eyes. Three men were following her. Oh, yeah. This *definitely* counted as a situation of extreme stress.

**Okay. Stay calm,** she reminded herself. **Don't let them know you've seen them. Don't panic. Whatever you do, don't panic!** She frantically glanced around to see if there was a building to duck into. There was a bar at the corner, a block down. If she could make it, she could phone for a taxi, or maybe the police. **Dratted cops,** she thought darkly. **When you need them the most, they're never around.** The police station was a few blocks away, and she knew she'd never make it trying to run there. If her heart didn't give out, her lungs probably would.

The footsteps were closer, and she gripped her bag tighter, wishing there was anything heavier in it than her practice leotard and her ballet slippers. Maybe a thick book...or a brick. She gripped the shocker tightly, ready to swing it around and jab her pursuers right in the throat, where it might do the most damage. They were gaining; she could hear them breathing, the creak of leather clothes and the clink of chains and what were probably various hidden weapons.

**I can't believe this!** she thought with wry disbelief. **Five years living here, and not a hint of trouble, and now this! Well, I guess I must be overdue...**

Still, she wasn't about to go without a fight. She heard the footsteps come faster, and unconsciously quickened her own. This did not look good. It felt like she'd been walking for hours, and yet the theater was probably still in sight behind her. It was going to be a long walk home...

She saw something move in the shadows ahead. **Oh no!** she thought. **Another one! An ambush!** Well, if this wasn't a fine kettle of fish! There was no way she was going to get out of this in one piece if she didn't do something right now. So she did the only logical thing she could think of.

She ran.

It really was hard to run in the pair of high-heeled boots she'd foolishly worn (even after all those little self-reminders to *not* wear heels to work after dark!), but she was gonna do her damnedest. The figure emerged from the shadows ahead, looking for all the world like the spawn of Freddie Krueger. He sneered at her as she came closer, ready to grab her. She narrowed her eyes at him. **Okay, big shot! If that's the way you're gonna be about it!**

She rammed him. Tackled him, like a football quarterback. Even though she was hardly a match for him in the weight department, her speed was enough to send them both flying off their feet, and when they landed, he was the one that hit the cement, his head slamming against it with a sickening crack. For good measure, she jabbed the shocker into him and felt him twitch as a seventy-some volts of electricity hit him.

**Take that!** she thought savagely, rolling to her feet quickly and whirling to face the other attackers, grateful for the years of training that had given her her cat-like reflexes. Unfortunately, her boot heel caught in a crack in the sidewalk, causing her to stumble and twist her ankle, and she went down with a hiss of pain.

The other three gang members chuckled evilly at this turn of events. "So, pussycat. Think yer so smart," one of them drawled. "Pretty little thing like you, its a shame you had to go and do that to our pal. Now we gonna have to do somthin' about it." There was a click, and a switchblade appeared in the speaker's hand.

"I don't know, boys," he said to the other two, with a leering grin. "She sure is a pretty thing, ain't she. Say, baby, you ever been wit' a *real* man? I bet we could teach you some things or two, ey? C'mere an' play wit' us lonely boys." He made a crude gesture, and Sarah glared at them defiantly.

"Bite me!" she snapped.

He smirked. "If you say so, baby." He started toward her and reached out to grab her, and she savagely pushed the shocker into the exposed flesh between his sleeve and his gloved hand. He howled and fell back, clutching his burned arm and cursing. "Get 'er!" he howled. "Slice her up, boys! She's gonna be sorry she messed with the Street Demons!" Sarah stumbled to her feet, ignoring the pain in her ankle. "Leave me alone!" she screamed. "I don't have any money!"

"That's okay, baby. You got somthin' we want a lot more," one of them growled. With a sudden lunge, he grabbed the arm that held her shocker and knocked it from her grasp. It clattered away into the darkness and was lost. So Sarah took the only option that was left to her.

She screamed bloody murder. They tried to shush her by covering her mouth, but as the one holding her wore no gloves, she bit savagely down on the grimy hand until she tasted blood. The thug cursed and landed a blow on her face that made her head snap around and slam into a wall, and she gasped as pain flooded through her head and white light filled her vision. They grabbed her and began to force her into the alley, with her kicking and screaming even though they held her legs. The pain in her ankle was severe, and she was afraid it was broken. The pain in her head wasn't quite as sharp, but she felt herself losing consciousness. **I can't believe it's going to end this way!** she thought. **It just can't! I still have too much to do in life...**

The thugs had pinned her against the wall and were now working on tearing her clothes off her body, but they had no sooner torn open her shirt when a sudden, loud, furious roar filled the darkened ally, and the thugs abruptly let her go with cries of "What the hell...?" and "It's a monster, man!"

Sarah slumped to the ground, watching through dim eyes as a...figure in a dark cloak leaped from out of nowhere and began to attack her attackers. The roaring was coming from him, she realized, and it sounded for all the world like a furious lion. She stared, wide eyed, as the cloaked figure lifted one of the thugs by his throat and hurled him against the wall, where he slumped down, stunned.

One of the thugs tried to attack the stranger, who simply swatted him away like a fly. He landed beside Sarah, three long, ugly gashes torn into his face, and then he scrambled up with a scream and took off running for his life. The other one followed, grabbing his half-conscious companion and dragging him away.

Sarah watched them go in stunned amazement before turning eyes back to the cloaked stranger. He was standing there, his breathing deep, sounding almost like a purr as he caught his breath. The hood that had covered his head had fallen back, and Sarah saw a mass of long, tangled, reddish-blond hair falling around his shoulders and down his back, like a mane. **Who is he?** she wondered dazedly, shifting slightly. Her head began to pound anew, forcing a small moan to escape from her lips. That caught the stranger's attention, and he turned to her suddenly.

What Sarah saw made her gasp with shock and attempt to scramble further back into the wall. The stranger was...not human! At least...not wholly human. He stood upright on two legs like a man, and he wore clothes like a man, but his face...his face was unlike any man's face. It looked more like the face of some great cat. A lion, what with that golden mane falling across his deep-set, blue eyes, which held a feral light that was slowly fading. His upper lip was clefted, and she could see the hint of sharp teeth. A tawny layering of short, silky fur covered broad, flat cheekbones and a cat-like nose. His voice, when he spoke, was deep and whisper-soft and velvety-rich, like the purr of a lion. "Are you hurt?" he asked, and Sarah blinked. It could talk?

"Don't be afraid," he told her gently, soothingly. "You're safe now. I won't hurt you. Nobody will hurt you again." He held out his hand, and she noted that it, too, was covered with fur, and his fingernails were long and sharp, like claws. But she wasn't afraid. Strangely, she was not afraid of this cat- man. She didn't know why. Maybe it was his voice, so gentle and soothing. Or maybe his eyes. They were human, his eyes, and they regarded her with gentle compassion.

"Wh...what are you?" she asked timidly. "Are...are you from...the Underground?"

Now where had *that* come from? she wondered with some surprise. The Underground? For the last time, that wasn't *real*! But still, he did have the look of one of the creatures that would live there. Certainly he wasn't *human*, and the way he was dressed, with the cloak and the flowing linen shirt that was tucked into a pair of suede breeches, which were, in turn, tucked into a pair of thigh-high suede boots wrapped with leather was exactly that kind of dress that a creature of the Underground would wear.

Besides, the near-startled look that briefly crossed his face let her know that maybe she'd hit closer to home than she'd realized. "What do you know of the Underground?" he asked in a guarded voice.

Sarah winced as she tried to sit up straighter. "More than I want to," she muttered softly, but he heard her anyway.

"What do you mean?" he asked sharply, and she gave him a nervous glance. He tempered his voice to a more appropriate tone. "How did you learn of my world?" he asked.

She frowned. "Um...I was there once, long ago." She could hardly believe she was admitting this. She'd tried so hard to *not* admit it, but this strange creature was throwing a jumbo-sized monkey wrench in the clockwork of her sanity. Clearly, if somebody like him could be here and talking to her, then that must mean the Underground was a real place. Which also meant that the Labyrinth was most likely real...which in turn meant that a certain king...

"Ohhhh...I don't feel very well," she whimpered. "I'm in a nightmare. Why now? Why after eight years is it coming back to haunt me now?"

Immediately concerned, the creature dropped gracefully onto his haunches and regarded Sarah carefully. "No matter about that now," he said. "You're hurt. We must get you to a doctor. Can you walk?"

"Don't know," she muttered. "I think my ankle's broken, or pretty much twisted. My head's killing me. I feel like I'm about to pass out."

He frowned. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Sarah Williams," she replied faintly. "Who are you?"

She thought he smiled. "My name is Vincent." He reached out to her cautiously. "Come. Let me carry you. I'm going to take you to my home. Since you claim to have been there once already..."

"What?!" Sarah was instantly alert, her fogginess replaced by fear. "Oh, no you don't! I'm never going back there again!'re not here to help me! You're here to bring me to Jareth! Well, he can't have me! You can't have me! You have no power over me! Do you understand? No power!"

Vincent was thoroughly confused by this sudden mood swing. But she'd been dealt with quite a blow...maybe it was the affect of the concussion she probably had. At her temple he could see an ugly gash seeping bright red blood through her dark hair. "Calmly, Sarah," he told her. "I'm here to help you. There's no Jareth where I live. I've never heard of him."

Sarah ceased her struggles, slowly, as her strength ebbed, and he used the opportunity to scoop her into his arms. She was light as a feather, and his great strength was more than a match for her weak protests. It seemed that the concussion was fast catching up to her as she slowly slipped into sleep.

He sighed softly as he gazed at her, then began to make his way to the sewers below where he and his family made their home. Father was not going to be happy about his only son bringing in another "stray", he knew, but something about this girl cried out to him. There was something in her haunted eyes that tugged at his soul. She was a lost soul who needed somebody to care for her.

And then there was the little matter of her knowing about the Underground. Well, his people called it "Below", but it was close enough to warrant some alarm. He did not recognize her, but there were so many that came and went in his world. Perhaps she had once been a part of it, and had left for the world Above? But why the fear? Why the terror she'd emanated when he'd mentioned taking her there? And who was this Jareth?

A growl caught in Vincent's throat at the remembrance of that name. The very sound of it sent his hackles to raising, and his senses alert. It was...sinister somehow, although it was unfamiliar. But his telepathic powers, that sixth-sense that he'd been born with, instinctively knew that the owner of this name was not one to call a friend. Whoever he was, whatever he had done to Sarah Williams, he'd better hope that he never met up with Vincent if he didn't want to live to regret it...

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 4 of 14

<< Previous     Home     Next >>