Timing

By: Kiryki

A/N: This is an experimental style of storytelling for me. I hope you enjoy it! Special thanks to The Dah and adlyb for beta reading this for me!


The first time it happened she had just broken up with her boyfriend. He was awful, he was so awful deep down and not at all what she needed.

She probably should have never told him. But one night Sarah was so drunk she told him the story (minus several key descriptions of hot ass goblin kings) and he said he believed her but she could see it in his eyes that he thought she was mad.

Fucking Greg and his shitty attitude snaps off some line about how he wished the goblins would take her away and she laughs in his face, because if the king of the goblins doesn't have any power over her, then some asshole with a breadwinner complex sure doesn't.

Apparently nothing wrong with his hearing, Jareth shows up at the bar halfway through her second martini, intending to be intimidating and flirt with her a bit; she's like that's ridiculous and also we should bang and get that shit out of our systems. He's like what okay ("I wouldn't be opposed to such a proposition," he thinks he says elegantly, when really he's not sure he could speak over the oddly joyous fire rolling up his spine.).

Sarah laughs at him over her glass rim.

She feels like no one informed the Goblin King that human teenagers could grow up into tigers with twelve years of pent up desire to shred that goddamn shirt off his body but then her patience runs out ("Fuck it.") and she kisses him right there at the bar in a toe curling smash of hungry mouths, then in the hallway next to the phone it's fanged teeth on soft lips, and by the time they're out the back door in the alley her hair is out of it's updo ('Did he magic away my bobby pins?') and he definitely has a hickey.

But she has standards though after all. ("Beer and piss soaked alleyways are not included in those standards," she hisses into his collarbone) He tells her to wish for home with a sensuous roll of apparated crystal along leather clad fingers.

Sarah laughs, hands up the back of his shirt and memory in her eyes ("Say your right words," she quotes from long dog-eared pages of her still favorite book, because wishes and wants seem to twist around him as easily as the strands of her hair wound round his fingers cradling the back of her head.).

She wishes they were both in her apartment (she gives the exact address just to see Jareth look wounded), ten seconds from now, and magic ports them to her living room.

And then here thar be fuckin', a really great messy fuck that aims for the bed and ends up on the floor and what the hell are zippers who invented this nonsense and she ends up laughing because the great Goblin King has to resort to magic to get her bra off and every bet she made with herself about his lack of underwear was won when she pulled down those tights.

In the morning he leaves a note on a narrow wooden box and she finds a glove under the bed the next time she washes the parting gift is a delivery box of sorts. Because cell phone reception being somewhat lacking in the Underground, he hopes maybe they could write to each other? Sarah presses fingers to smiling lips because he wants (wants!) to talk to her more and maybe once wasn't enough for him either.

She still feels the desire except now it's something else, not some remnant of teenage desires formed before she understood what had been offered in her moment of triumph. When she grew older she had wondered if he would still feel the same when she had bitten enough of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to know what it meant when a king pleaded.

So she takes the box with her to play rehearsals and writes notes on the subway.

Sometimes at odd off moments they end up passing notes back and forth so quickly it's like texting and she doodles emotes for emphasis and he swears he can still feel the heat of her fingers on the page. Sometimes she's so busy that she scribbles a quick note over her morning cheerios; he's so tired after Council Meetings he scratches notes like status updates: 120 characters of weary grumbling. The morning after Opening Night there is a torn ticket stub for the best seat in the house waiting in the box with a note on the back ("You were glorious!").

The second time, almost three weeks later, she comes home with takeout and he's sitting in her closet mirror like he's not sure how and when his own bedroom chamber mirror started looking out on her shoe collection. He's got at least half a bottle of wine in him and so much sadness that she sits on her pile of dirty laundry and listens.

He's angry because a lot of her world is screwing up so bad. The magic is going out of the world, eaten up with the poisoned earth and ruined empty places. Worst of all, aside from small pockets of the world, no one believed. A changeling left in a cradle was cause for an investigation, not gossip and offerings. ("It was much simpler," he says with a laugh that isn't, graceful fingers playing with the bottleneck. "The goblins taking a child was understood. Your race often has too many. The unseelie races often have too few…") Cold Iron was everywhere now, even in the remote homes, and it was rare that anyone left out the bowls for the Wee Folk anymore. Even the amount of children offered to the Labyrinth had slowed to a trickle.

He tells her the real horror is that some of the best Belief comes from children without parents trapped in houses with people who do not care. There were so many children that were not being wished away, that could not be just taken away because the Labyrinth is Law and Contract, and without a Wish children cannot be taken.

For the first time, his people were looking at a bleak future. The Unseelie would gladly raise a human child since for some it was so hard to conceive on their own and the magic of the Underground eventually changed the children into the particular Fae of their new parents. With dwindling magic and children, some of the races that were not as immortal as the sídhe might find themselves dying out in a few generations.

He looks so upset that she asks if she can step through the looking glass and be home by morning and he promises. So she grabs the takeout ('Really there's way too much for one person anyway,' she tells herself), sits on his bedroom floor with him, and tries to teach him how to use chopsticks. And he thinks the food is good and his chopstick skills are about two centuries rusty but she makes him laugh and shares his bottle of wine until it's gone. At some point they end up on the bed with a different kind of desperation in their mouths.

In the morning she asks if they're friends with benefits. He's strangely pleased they're even friends. He sends her home to the proper place and the proper time. Later he finds her underwear in his sheets and tucks them into his nightstand for the next time he thinks it was a dream, because he's never told anyone the things he told Sarah that night.

The third time is two weeks later. There's an ostentatious bouquet of flowers waiting in her dressing room after the Saturday night performance and an anonymous card asking her to dinner. Her coffee date with Krista from her building last week had obviously not been a lifematch (Krista wanted Hollywood and cameras, and Sarah couldn't imagine a performance without an audience) but she'd had fun. Still, when she walks out the stage door to see the Goblin King lounging against the brick wall, she isn't surprised, and she isn't disappointed.

She laughs and asks how he hasn't been arrested in those tights.

He sniffs and says magic and he's delighted when she slips her arm in his and asks where they're going.

They walk off and the street dissolves to a restaurant somewhere else in some town she's never been to, never even seen. And if the waiter's eyes glow yellow, and the sommelier has a tail, it's charming and lovely and a bit romantic. The Goblin King is a lofty title but here he's a sidhe prince, and raised eyebrows and sharp teeth gossip over Jareth's newest lady and didn't he break it off with that young duke almost two month ago? And if Sarah hears she doesn't care, and if Jareth hears he's much too caught up in Sarah's stories to listen.

When she asks him to spend the night it's exactly what they both want and it's a languid affair. If he grips her a little too tight and she says his name like it was made for her mouth, neither mentions it.

In the morning he's still there and she asks him to stay for breakfast. He drinks coffee with cookie dough creamer for the first time and wonders if he should tell Sarah how good she looks in his life. He does tell her the coffee is terrible though, but fortunately it doesn't take long under his tongue to get back into her graces.

The fourth time is three nights later when she knocks on her closet mirror and he wordlessly pulls her through the glass and into his bed. Somewhere before dawn and when he falls asleep holding her hand she thinks she could get used to this.

The fifth time is some time past noon the next morning when he says he'll have her home in time for warm-ups. She doesn't notice that she didn't make him promise. He does notice, and makes sure she's home an hour early.

The sixth time is the least planned—like everything else to do with Jareth—and a week after.

Her company is going on tour in a month and they need her. And for once in a long time she worries because she set out her path a long time ago and she loves it. She loves the stage and the lights and the giving back of something magical to the audience. And what if Jareth doesn't support that? What if he wants a queen? She's not ready to be a queen. She has plans. But she also wants him and his letters and sometimes sharing his bed or him in her bed.

What if things will have to end because he needs to marry a Fae someday?

She's so worried that she needs to talk to him now—because if this doesn't work, it needs to end.

The mirror in her closet lets her through to his bedroom again. (When did he set that up? Did he set that up?) He's not there, so she wanders the castle. The goblins point and whisper behind drapes and chicken coops about the girl who won the Labyrinth years and years and years ago; eventually one takes pity on her and leads her in the right direction. She's not a Runner anymore, they can do that if she's not a Runner (the goblin hopes and hopes).

Jareth's in an office filled with the musty smell of the books on the walls, sitting behind a desk looking at paperwork because of course, right, he has a job too. He's surprised she's there and she blurts out everything before he can say a word, the entire mess, every worry in a bunch of rushed sentences. At the end she's flushed and nervous because she just realized how important to her this future was too.

But oh! He's around the desk in a blink and kissing her until they're breathless because permission, permission, permission to stay in her life is what she's offering and asking to be in his is what she wants. Of course he's not going to demand she stay and be queen unless she wants to, he tells her. Nothing has to change because letters can be written from buses or trains or planes and who says she even needs to stay in a hotel room when he could find her anywhere and put her back the same.

Doesn't she know he'd move the stars for her?

She laughs, because he's changed and she's important and she's so relieved and so glad. And if the things on his desk hit the ground a few moments later when he clears her a seat, at least it was nothing he couldn't fix. Later, much much later.

That was the sixth time, but really after that, they stopped keeping count.


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