A/N: Just a silly thing written as a Christmas present for my friend startraveller776. Also because I just really wanted to put Jareth and Loki in a room together and have them duke it out.
Hope you enjoy!
There are stories that have never been told.
We can't always say why. They may have been lost to time or locked away. They may have gotten lost as new stories arose, victims of antiquity.
But some stories are hidden on purpose- whether by those who don't want them told or those who were involved themselves. They might just be a little embarrassed, you know.
Obviously, this is not one of those stories, but it is one that couldn't have come to be without one.
It begins with a party on a late December night. Everything is in full swing. A fifty piece orchestra serenades the guests with old classics. The high class hors d' oeuvres taste literally like something from the heavens. The party guests are of the best breeding: wealthy socialites, prominent businessmen, artists and musicians and playwrights and possibly a British noble if the gossip is true. It all comes together in a Greek-style ballroom with towering glass windows and a chandelier that is perhaps a greater work of art than the near-flawless replica of the Statue of David that stands on the fountain. It's only because of some smudged lipstick that Sarah Williams has been holed up in the bathroom for fifteen minutes.
That, and the fact that she really doesn't want to be here anymore.
She should never have let Jareth pick the location for date night. She should have learned her lesson after last time, when he decided floor seats at a concert meant they should actually be on stage with the performers. Or the time before that, when he proclaimed his love to her by whisking her off to Manhattan and reading her a poem extolling her many virtues on the Times Square jumbotron. If only a quiet night at the movies was good enough for him.
Crashing parties is new. Sarah still isn't sure who or what is being celebrated. It's too early in the month to be for Christmas and she hasn't seen any presents or a birthday cake. It may as well be just an excuse for a bunch of upper class twits to get together and talk about how much money they have.
It was the promise of a favorite writer being in attendance that had Sarah throwing aside her better judgment and letting Jareth lead her by the arm past the doorman. Knowing him, it was a lie from the start, just so he'd get his way. Surely someone with a memory as unbearably accurate as his could remember the name 'Neil Gaiman' and know that it sounds nothing like 'Neil Steeplehoff.'
As it was, she couldn't run forever. That Jareth hadn't come looking for her already meant he either didn't notice she was gone yet, or a bellhop had been staring lewdly at her backside and he was giving the poor fool some hands on experience with the Bog of Eternal Stench. Either way, Sarah Williams did not hide from her problems, especially not in public restrooms.
Her makeup case- small as it is- lays empty with its contents scattered around. Her lipstick had been close to the top, but now seems like a good time to clean out the whole thing and then replace each individual piece one at a time. She needs another minute when she's done; for some reason the zipper won't budge.
The door swings open, giving Sarah a fright and making her think for a moment that the jig is up- he's finally found her.
Her fears are unfounded. It's not a smirking goblin king with an obsolete but characteristic hairstyle, but a petite woman with coif brown hair and brown eyes kept apart by a long nose that fits her face well. She's quite beautiful in her purple dress, though the way she carries herself and wobbles on her stiletto heels makes Sarah think she doesn't dress like this very often.
She takes the sink next to Sarah, reaching into a tiny purse that makes Sarah's look like a duffel bag. Out comes a compact mirror with eye shadow inside. She fiddles with the wand, unable to draw it out until she upends the compact. Even then it slips through her fingers. The woman hisses angrily.
"I got it," says Sarah.
She gets down on her knees, uncaring of the dirt stains on her dress. It can be dry cleaned no problem.
"Thank you," says the woman. "Sorry about that, I don't use these much."
She has a laugh at herself, and Sarah feels a little bad for joining in.
"I'm Sarah, by the way. Sarah Williams."
"Jane Foster," says the woman. "Nice to meet you."
They shake hands and Jane starts on her eyelids, reviving faded purple eye shadow with a nice new coat. Her brushstrokes lack the smoothness of Karen's or Sarah's friend's, but she gets the job done and looks good for her efforts.
"So, are you enjoying the party?" Jane asks while replacing the compact in her purse.
Sarah thinks about lying, and what kind of lie she would tell. Deliberation takes time she doesn't have and soon Jane is looking at her in a very knowing way that leaves Sarah at a loss.
"Well… I could be enjoying it more."
To her surprise, Jane nods. "I know the feeling. That's the last time I let my boyfriend plan a date night."
Sarah grins, and suddenly, the night isn't looking quite as bad.
"So, what do you do for a living?" Jane asks, the two of them walking out of the bathroom together. They stay to the side, away from the mingling of people too boring to listen in on.
"I'm a writer," says Sarah. "Well, my day job is high school teacher, but since my first book is getting published next month, I might just be able to quit."
"Congratulations," says Jane. She pulls fresh glasses of champagne from the table, and they share a toast. Sarah drinks hers down, even though champagne has never been her thing. She much prefers red wine.
"So what do you do, Jane?" she asks.
"I'm an astrophysicist."
Sarah blinks a couple of times, waiting for that to sink in.
"Wow, that sounds… markedly more impressive."
Jane grins, but in a friendly way. Sarah may have only known her for a little while, but so far, Jane doesn't seem to have a rude bone in her body.
"It can be a headache sometimes… and you don't even want to know what the education process is like, or what it costs."
Sarah gets chills just thinking about it. Her own college loans statement made her faint the first time she saw it. Going to school for something as serious as physics was a whole other animal Sarah wouldn't touch with her pinky toe.
"So what exactly is an astrophysicist?" Sarah asks.
"I study the stars," says Jane. "Their make-up and behavior, that sort of thing. Specifically, I'm researching wormholes and Einstein-Rosen Bridges. They're gateways to other worlds, or they should be."
Sarah nods. She tries not to, but her mind goes to Jareth and the way he can take them anywhere he wants with just a wave of his hand- including to the underground. Imagine what Jane would think if Sarah told her about that.
Any further explanation into the fascinating and (for Sarah) confusing world of Jane Foster's career is cut short as something behind Sarah catches Jane's attention, and she rolls her eyes.
"He makes his appearance at last," she mutters.
Sarah furrows her brow. "Who?"
"My boyfriend," Jane says. There's something odd about how Jane says it, almost like she isn't sure about it. Sarah couldn't imagine why, except that maybe they were at a 'complicated' point in their relationship or something.
Sarah turns to look at the man walking towards them, who can only be Jane's significant other. She understands immediately why Jane hesitates to call him her boyfriend. It's because attaching the word 'boy' onto this guy in any context is just wrong.
He's one more black suit and tie in a consuming sea of them, and yet he stands out among the rest, a way she's only ever seen Jareth do. Truthfully, he has a lot in common with Jareth, from the poised and confident stride to the downright otherworldly beauty. At least the look of him is different enough from Jareth: where the Goblin King is golden, this man is black as night. His eyes are unambiguously green, unlike Jareth's which look mismatched unless you are really paying attention. He's taller than Jareth, but with a similar build. He seems to exude strength and power, and that might be the most distinct- and most eerie- similarity between Jane's date and Sarah's. She finds herself glancing around for Jareth; any sight of his giant yellow head to bring her back to reality would be good right now.
"Where have you been?" Jane is asking of the man, who smiles at her in a dark sort of way that strikes Sarah about as much as it does Jane.
"Forgive me, I was caught up with some fellow who claimed to be an authority on the Norns. I had to make a few corrections to his thesis."
"And could your new friend possibly be that man who ran out of here with his hand on his heart a few seconds ago?"
The man's smile grows wider, but he says no more. It's almost a shame. He has a richly melodic voice, crisply accented by a British upbringing. Of course, Sarah should know that just sounding British doesn't necessarily make one British. Or from this world.
But how many royals from other dimensions or people with magic powers could be out there really?
"It seems you're the one who has made a friend tonight, Jane." The man appraises Sarah with an intensity that has her fidgeting. She tries not to think about it. It'll just lead her to one more comparison that she doesn't want to make.
"Er- I'm Sarah Williams, nice to meet you."
She offers a hand, which he takes, but where Sarah expects a handshake, she gets a light brush of his lips just below her knuckles. Her face heats up like lava springing from a volcano.
"Enchanted to meet you, Ms. Williams. I am Loki of Asgard. I'm sure Jane has told you about me."
He gives her a grin- it's so disarming that Sarah can forgive all traces of arrogance in his words. It doesn't look like Jane can, but she's probably seen it all before.
"Now that that's out of the way," she says, crossing her arms, "can you please tell me what else you've been up to tonight, Loki?"
Loki pretends to be offended, the hurt look in his eyes so genuine, he must have been a professional actor. Now that Sarah thinks about it he kind of looks like an actor in that Kenneth Branagh detective show she caught five minutes of once…
"Well, if it isn't you!"
Sarah wishes his voice behind her didn't elicit so much excitement in the pit of her stomach. It's just the effect Jareth has on her, ever since they first met (though back then she thought it was just nerves). Someday, she's going to have to raid that library of his to find something that might explain this influence he has.
"And where have you been?" she asks back. She's ready to hug him or tease him, depending on how he answers. What she sees is him in his blue overcoat- the one he wore ages ago, the first time they danced. He's as heart-stoppingly pretty as ever, and it's nice to have a reminder of that when she's just been waxing poetic about some guy who isn't him.
What's odd is his face, the anger that comes over him as he forgets that Sarah is there and stares over her head.
The word overlaps with a deep, cold voice that could only come from one source. Sarah turns; Loki is matching Jareth's expression exactly, just as Jane mirrors Sarah's bewilderment. The inherent madness in Loki's eyes as he takes in Jareth sends shivers down Sarah's spine. Beyond the ice in his tone, there's the funny lighting of the room that creates an illusion of red in his eyes.
"Umm…" she says, though she's unsure who she is addressing. "What?"
Jareth strikes the first blow.
Or Loki does.
It's hard to tell.
One second, they're stock still, staring each other down. The next, Jareth has shed his party clothes in favor of the kingly ensemble he favors. Likewise, Loki's suit is replaced by green and gold armor topped off with the most bizarre horned helmet Sarah has ever seen.
Light glows in Loki's hand. He throws it at Jareth, who flies across the room and lands hard on the opposite wall. A herd of unsuspecting party-goers scream and bump into each other trying to figure out what is happening. Loki moves seamlessly through them, completely in his element scaring the lives out of people.
"No, no, no," Jane is saying as she tugs at her hair. "We talked about this!"
Jareth rises from the wreckage to meet the approaching Loki. Sarah is torn between relief that he's okay and apprehension for what his inevitable counterattack will be. In the end, it's worse than she could have imagined. Twelve crystals crawl up Loki's skin, covering him in glass. Rage was frozen on his face, and Jareth met it with a smug sense of triumph.
"Oh, now," he says tauntingly. "After all these years, has the Silvertongue lost his touch?"
The glass explodes. Loki's scream is punctuated by another burst of energy that comes from both sides. The fight grows intense as the party guests have mostly cleared out. Sarah and Jane remain, hidden under a strong table with a tattered cloth. They curl into themselves, heedless of their dresses riding up. Not like there's anyone around to see. Various tables and statues are magically tossed back and forth by the combatants. Crystals collide with daggers in the air, either to shatter or blow up. The floor shakes violently every time.
"So…" Sarah says, "when you say Loki, you mean the Loki, right?"
"Unfortunately," Jane answers flatly. A table full of hors d' oredouves goes flying, only for Loki to chop it in half. The pieces pass him harmlessly while Jareth growls in annoyance. "What about him? That's your boyfriend, right?"
"You'll die TONIGHT YOU PRANCING BUFFON!" Loki shouts.
"Ha! Just try and take me, Liesmith!
"Sadly, yes," says Sarah, slumping over. "You ever stop and think to yourself 'wow, I'm actually with this guy'?"
A huge plane of glass detaches from the window and sails Jareth's way. He deflects the projectile back to its sender. Loki lobs it back, starting what could be the world's most deadly game of tennis.
"Sometimes," Jane answers with a sigh. "Probably a lot for the next few days. Did I tell you I dated his brother for a while?"
Sarah flinches when a piece of the glass chips off and skirts Jareth's cheek, but he barely acknowledges it.
"And I've always been sure about choosing Loki," Jane goes on. "I still don't regret it, I just wish Loki would exercise a little self-control."
"Would be nice if Jareth did that too," Sarah says with a hollow laugh. "I'm really sorry about this, by the way."
"Don't be," says Jane. "They're the ones who started it."
By now, Jareth and Loki have mostly exhausted all the resources their terrain allows them, but a pair of high class magicians such as them can easily remedy that. A quick beam war ends in a draw as Loki breaks it off to go in for a sneak attack. He almost gets his hit, but Jareth veers as well and the two of them get each other right between the eyes. They come out of it with ruined hair and burning red faces. Two more attacks nearly break the foundation of the building in half, making Sarah wonder how long it'll be before the cops are called.
"I mean, in general he's pretty good about not randomly attacking people he doesn't like," Jane says, and Sarah nods in agreement.
"And regardless of how he interacts with other people, he's always been good to me."
Something in the corner catches fire, and it spreads to other parts of the room but stays noticeably far from where they are hiding. Jareth and Loki make good use of it, hurling fireballs back and forth at each other.
"…the sex is really good," says Sarah, shrugging.
"Oh yeah, definitely," answers Jane.
The last of the windows blows out, alerting them to the cold wind that has been blowing all along. It takes care of some of the fire, and the growing sound of sirens indicates that the rest will be dealt with soon. Jareth and Loki remain oblivious to all of this, as they appear to be charging up for some kind of ultimate attack that will surely have the entire building up in smoke and leave the two of them no closer to a resolution.
"I think it's time to get out of here."
Jane drives at a normal rate. The urge to break the speed limits left once they got away from the sirens. From the passenger's seat, Sarah adjusts the rear view mirror. Jareth and Loki are as she left them. Their arms are crossed over their chests as they are turned pointedly away from each other like the overgrown five year olds they are.
"Okay, what was that all about?" she demands. "Like- can we get any sort of explanation at all?"
"It's his fault," says Jareth. "He provoked me."
"You attacked first," snaps Loki.
"Because your mere presence provokes me."
Loki growls, magic glowing over his fingertips.
"Loki Odinson, do not perform any magic in this pingauzer!" shouts Jane. "Or I swear to God I will have Thor lock you back up."
"You wouldn't dare…"
As they can't appropriately stare each other down, Loki is forced to hold off on blowing Jareth's head off, much to the latter's obvious amusement.
"Well, well, well," says Jareth with a toothy grin. "Looks like the world destroying God of Mischief has finally been tamed."
"I'm sorry, I don't speak Fop."
"Would you two knock it off?" Saran demands. "What are you even fighting about in the first place?"
"Ask him," Jareth jabs a finger Loki's way.
"Oh, why turn the blame on me when you know it's your fault?"
"I think the real question is, why are you so willing to shift the blame if you are innocent?"
"Or perhaps it's 'why are you avoiding giving your lady a straight answer and arguing semantics with someone who has far better things to do than indulge in your petty trifles?'"
"You know, if your goal is to play at indifference, you probably shouldn't have engaged me in a fight."
"I think we've made it clear that you are the one who did the engaging, thank you very much. I wonder if all those hair care products are having some adverse effect on your memory."
"Funny, I was thinking the same of that helmet."
Electric current passes between hateful stares. Not for the first time, Sarah is regretting taking up Jane's offer for a ride home. The ensuing argument- while heated- never gets as far as physical fighting. The two idiots are at least conscious enough of their surroundings to know the risk they could have put their lovers at.
Eventually, Sarah and Jane would get the whole story of their rivalry out of the two men.
Or at least, they almost do.
Another fight breaks out when Jareth and Loki can't agree on who it was that started the avalanche on Alfheim and saved the town below from the forest fire.
This is why, for the moment, the true, bitter story of the Goblin King Jareth and the God of Mischief Loki remains on the list of tales lost. Someday, Sarah or Jane or both might find out the truth. If they do, it will surely be most incredible, a story you might find in an ageless text about gods of old, or a simple red book that fuels dreams.
Until then, our favorite men of legend have some well-earned nights on the living room couch to spend.