To Take Back the Child
Warnings: M/M slash, angst, violence, blood, and general evil goodness.Author's Notes: This tale takes place beyond the ending of Labyrinth. Jareth and his goblins as darker characters than what the movie depicts them as, so the story becomes a sort of sadistically twisted fairy tale. If you dislike the idea of homosexual erotica, please decide whether or not this will bother you before moving on. Thanks.
Disclaimer: I understand that I'm a deprived fan who makes no claim to the ownership of the characters of Labyrinth. No infringements or profits were considered.
Chapter One: The Summoner
Twin crystal orbs spun precariously in the long graceful fingers of their owner, catching the amber luminescence of a sky bidding its first farewells to the passing of the tired sun as they traveled their lazy orbits around one another. When the golden clouds began to darken to a rich shade of crimson, as if bathed in the blood of angels, the crystals halted smoothly, and the hand that contained them flexed tightly before straightening, allowing them to float slowly back to their companions resting in an ancient wooden box lined with emerald velvet. They settled silently and the ornately carved lid of their casket followed suit.
The Goblin King sat in the open window high in the stone castle tower with his head resting lightly against the cool arch that framed the large orifice. His flaxen hair danced softly in the dusk breezes, whispering past his ageless cheekbones set high beneath glittering sapphire eyes that spoke of undeterminable age, young, yet seemingly ancient, like those that have seen countless years come and go like a breath of wind. A certain sadness touched them, it was marked deep in their cerulean clarity, though undetectable to any who had been fortunate enough to steal a look into them long enough to mark their undeniable wisdom. Those eyes now sparkled with the wavering hues of sunset's majesty as they gazed at the slowly crawling clouds that savored the feast of color.
The approaching sound of clumsily scraping claws against the hard stone floor broke the peaceful silence but Jareth did not look away. A brisk breeze laced with icy fingers kissed his face when the footsteps halted below.
"My lord?" a husky voiced asked uncertainly.
Finally tearing his gaze from the sky, Jareth regarded the grizzled old goblin, his oldest servant, with an air of annoyance. His sight discovered a pale chalice carved from bone, beset with dull diamond-shaped jewels, their luster long faded with age. The creature cast its small, clouded eyes to the floor and held the vessel out for his king to take.
Jareth accepted it gingerly, wordlessly, and resumed his somber observation of the sunset. He listened disinterestedly as the scraping feet departed to leave him in solitude, but caught the sound of a limp in their step. His thoughts began to wander to the nature of his keep, the way they did so often anymore, and he lifted the chalice to his lips. Fire burned a slow trail over his tongue and down his throat as he swallowed the green spirits. The memory of the old goblin's faltering steps returned to his mind.
He was an intelligent man; of that there was no question. But if he had to tell one of how long his stronghold had stood upon these lands he could not say with surety. Ages blended with ages, days melted uneventfully into days, yet the minutes seemed to grow more unbearable as the careless blur of time passed him by. It was a long time for sure, compared to certain other worlds. His reign's origin was even more clouded, yet he learned long ago to stop questioning it. Such thoughts only brought him a confusion that closely bordered on madness. It was best to just amuse his whims, which allowed him to shape his own particular eccentricities, and his subjects didn't seem to mind. They were loyal as well as dutiful, though he had wondered if that was merely because there was no one else to betray him for. Perhaps they did care for him as more than just their king for the ties of their blood. Goblins were faithful to their kin.
Another path of fire pleasantly seared his throat before he set the bone chalice beside his thigh. A great sigh escaped his lips as his thoughts unwillingly turned to the mortal young woman he had toyed with not so many years ago. Sarah, a wretched girl, but admirable in the way of courage. She was also pleasant to look on, as mortal youths often were. Jareth immediately recognized her loveliness when she so boldly summoned him to her world. He was taken, that he would not deny.
It was not so very often that the mortals with favors they nearly always later regretted roused him. And always were they consistent in the ways of taking his generosity for granted; he fulfilled wishes. Most of those that he had encountered had been the foolish youths full of rash judgment, just as Sarah proved to be. Yet despite that, there was something magnetic in her blood, something that drew him inexorably to her over the simple prospect of a new game. Perhaps that was why he attempted to dissuade her from taking on his maze, if not from lust.
Her shining hair and innocent eyes filled his memory and Jareth did not resist, but closed his eyes to allow the images more vivid detail. He remembered the masquerade above all else when his thoughts were fond. The shining crystalline beads and flowers adorning the exquisite pearl ball gown draped her fragile body so perfectly; he had congratulated himself for creating such a masterpiece. And the look of fear mixed with such a great curiosity that could not be suppressed as she gazed at him, that was when he could almost believe himself in love with the creature. Her fingers entwining with his as they danced among the grotesque laughing faces had made him forget of his aching loneliness, if for just a moment. It never lasted.
The chalice was taken by a sudden sweeping gesture and flung with such force against the tower floor that it shattered. Bits of splintered bone and cracked jewels clattered loudly as they splayed in all directions, spilling the bright green contents. Absinthe pooled into the wide cracks of the floor.
Jareth glared at the sky, anger boiling hotter than the spirits in his throat. How could he allow himself to be taken by such a foolish mortal? She had refused him when he blindly offered her his very soul, traded his pledge of eternal service and loyalty for a mere mewling baby. It was a rare thing for him to feel regret, and the degree to which she placed it in him was unforgivable. But he was powerless. Revenge was not a notion unfamiliar to him, though his use of it was for sport, nothing of a serious nature. Yet if he had the power to exact upon her the pain she had willingly caused him, he would take it with certain rapture. However, the veil between his world and that of the mortals was impenetrable without the key, a mere string of words he was helpless to resist when uttered. She would never let them pass her lips again.
Blue eyes closed in exasperation. He ran a hand back through his hair, allowing the evening air to cool his enflamed skin. His long fingers worked the buttons of his ivory silk shirt until it lay open to the delicate winds before toying with the pendent around his neck that mirrored the last rays of day in their silver angles. He dropped it just as quickly, wishing he could simply rip it free from his neck. But experience had long ago taught him that attempting such a thing was not wise.
The taut muscles of the Goblin King's chest rose and fell more calmly, but the infernal spite he felt remained. He heard her say the words that banished him once again, echoing sharply in his mind. She had been the only one to refuse his seduction and win the challenge of the Labyrinth as well. And what did she do it for? For a mere child!
Jareth remembered the babe as well. He didn't have the time to become attached to the boy, but would have preferred to keep them both. If not to prove his powers, then certainly to dispel his boredom. Visions of playing a father figure did not suit him well, which was why he had wanted to keep Sarah in his grasp, along with his burning desire to make her wholly his own. That kind of game was the rarest of all. He had found in it such delight incomparable to any mind manipulation he could conjure, even though the ones that he had ensnared in the past grew tedious in time. In the end, he had to dispose of them, for he could not tolerate boredom if given the choice and power to change the circumstances.
That led to another pastime he thoroughly enjoyed if he was so inclined to take the favorite sport away from the goblins. He sympathized with their love of plain torture, but the simple look of sheer terror that seized the eyes of his former interests was the sweetest sight of all. It didn't take him long to conclude that screams of unendurable pain and those of pleasure were very similar.
Now he was longing to hear that particular anguish, for his rage was given nothing to sate itself. The goblins seemed to know when he was in such a mood and quietly made themselves like shadows. It was probably the wisest thing to do, though he had no particular interest in their suffering, for at times he would slip into such a violent rage without regard to the lives of those around him. He wasn't at that point just yet.
Jareth pushed himself from the window ledge and stalked to his throne, crunching bits of bone beneath his black boots. He descended heavily, throwing his legs over the side of the plain seat carelessly. Propping his chin in the heel of his hand, he gazed stonily at the remains of his favorite chalice.
"Such foolishness," he muttered absently. From somewhere in the corner of his mind appeared the realization of just that and he soon found himself laughing with utter disdain. Its bitter sound resonated from the bare walls.
The Goblin Lord gradually ceased his laughter and breathed deeply, entertaining thoughts of how he would go about creating a real revenge worthy of a king. He came up with various visions, the most horrific of which brought a smile to his lips. For several long moments he amused himself in this manner until a soft knock was heard at the doorway. Jareth looked up, startled.
"Come in," he called.
The wizened goblin hobbled inside reluctantly, his hands wringing together nervously.
"What is it?" Jareth snapped.
The wretched creature dropped his hands behind his back and stood at attention, keeping his eyes averted for fear of his master's wrath. "My lord, the goblins are in a frenzy. They say that someone from the mortal world is about to speak the summoning words."
"You mock me," the reclining man said lowly, dangerously.
"No, my lord! I live to serve only you and your interests. I sensed it too," the old goblin pleaded.
"Well, then we must go, mustn't we?" Jareth rose and buttoned his shirt. "What is the mortal's wish?"
The hunched goblin bit his haggard lip and unconsciously toyed with his stubby fingers again.
"Speak up!" Jareth roared impatiently.
Jumping in fright, the goblin managed to brave a look directly into his master's eyes before disclosing what had been demanded of him. "The mortal wishes itself here. By will."
Jareth stopped his preparations to stare in at his long-time servant and repeated what he may have mistaken. "Wishes itself here?"
A very rare occurrence, yes, but not impossible. Most of the wishes he was sent to grant did not involve one's self being transported to his world. Those that had even a fraction of the knowledge of his world's existence surely knew that when one came here, one did not return. They would wish for an easy solution to something they had no patience in dealing with, and these things were often too petty to speak of in Jareth's mind. But he would take them all the same, delighting in the irony when the wisher begged for a reversal in their hasty decision once he or she saw it come true. And so they were faced with the Labyrinth as a test to regain what was lost, doomed to fail, and thus his to keep. He wondered for what reasons this particular human would be foolish enough to willingly doom itself.
He snatched up the great black mantle lying on the throne and threw it about his shoulders before fastening it at his neck. Perhaps, like those few others, the creature has a death wish, he thought, and could find absolutely no reason to not fulfill such a longing. His stride was steady as he neared the doorway.
The ancient goblin bowed and watched him pass, wondering uselessly what was on his master's mind. It agreed that a strange wish was being brewed and the creature was just as eager as the lot of them to learn more. He quickly followed in the Goblin King's wake down the stairs and into the common room.
The goblins trained for traveling between worlds stood ready as their master entered, his generous mantle flowing like a great set of membranous wings.
"The words have been spoken, master. Shall we go?" one of the younger goblins inquired, baring a set of needle-like teeth in its grin.
"Well, there is no choice is there? Besides, it would be rude to leave a request of our presence ignored," the man said and smiled back in wicked humor.
Lifting his hands, the Goblin King traced a few symbols into the air and a transparent ripple appeared like a thin floating sheet of water before him. The five goblins darted eagerly into the portal, driven by the prospects of fresh blood. Jareth closed his eyes and shifted to his snow-white owl's form before gliding gracefully through the veil adjoining the two worlds.
The shock of crossing the separating void was nauseating to the point of vertigo, but did not last long, and Jareth recovered quickly. He was borne high by his downy wings and hovered there until he could grasp the situation below him. The goblins were standing around a body lying sprawled out on the floor of a somewhat cramped and ill-lit room. A storybook laid close, its well-worn pages and spine revealing it to be a favorite. They looked up at him, not knowing what to do.
"It's unconscious, my lord," one spoke. "What should we do with it?"
"Can we eat it?" another dared.
The Goblin King descended and shifted to his natural body and the goblins parted to allow him a better view of the summoner. Jareth reopened his eyes and stepped forward, ignoring the insolence of the question in favor of his new curiosity.
The creature was a young man and was, indeed, out of his senses. He looked to be in his late teens or early twenties, with light blond hair lying haphazardly about his head in long strands. The youth's face wore a look of calm slumber, oblivious to the danger that he may have provoked. The Goblin King began to wonder if some mistake had been made just before he caught something unusual issuing from the youth, like subtle electricity. It was excruciatingly familiar, yet he could not place it. The child's face also had a hint of familiarity, but its beauty was too distracting to ponder such things.
Jareth gave the body a closer inspection to see whether or not the youth was alive at all. A steady shallow breathing answered him. The entirety of the scene was so unusual that the Goblin King could not resist his gnawing inquisitiveness. It wasn't often that he passed up something strange. Besides, the kid looked rather interesting.
"Take him," he commanded, "but leave him untouched. Understood?" With that, the Goblin King transformed once again and reentered the shimmering breach.
The creatures nodded their understanding before turning their attention back to the youth.
"Shame, he looks tasty. Couldn't he spare just a little piece to try?" a taller goblin muttered hopefully.
"Jareth will have our heads," another answered and began the work of lifting the new burden.
The others joined him, no longer of the heart to voice their dismay. They knew the words to be true, and that would just be the beginning. The rippling gateway accepted them and sealed quickly as the last goblin hobbled through.
The moon was lingering at the crest of the mountain range in the distance, making their sharp twisted peaks glow eerily. Jareth paced back and forth in his chambers, growing increasingly desperate for something to happen.
The goblins were charged with the task of seeing to the summoner's health until the mortal was well enough to be questioned. It was his form of punishment for the insolence they had displayed earlier, for they were accustomed to and enjoyed doing quite the opposite of healing. But none would dare to question his orders. The dismayed complaints were uttered in carefully hushed voices once the Goblin Lord had taken his leave.
Now the king was leaning out the window to inhale the fresh night air deeply, reveling in the glory of the velvety darkness filled with breezes as soft as whispers from pixie wings. The moon rose onward, slowly, casting the intricate angles of his maze in sublime luminescence. Twilight was his favorite time; it made him feel as though he were much younger than his appearance deceived him to be. The stars glimmered in a myriad of colors overhead and all was quiet. Yet his long fingernails soon began to tap the stone.
Who was the youth? Why had he seemed the slightest bit familiar? The child had the book with the power to summon the goblins and it looked as though the thing had not been newly broken. The Goblin King's agitation was about to become unbearable when a soft rapping at his door rescued his nerves.
Jareth strode briskly to answer the caller and pulled the heavy wooden door open as if it weighed nothing at all.
"What is it?" he asked. "Is the child awake?"
"My lord, it is," the heavy-set brute donning a helmet balanced with curving horns of dirty white replied. "We wait for your leave."
"Excellent. You may go." The tall man watched the creature bumble down the stairs before turning back to his room. His eyes roved the night sky once more before he snapped his fingers and induced a transformation.
He examined himself in a full-length mirror, deciding that the change was well suited. His loose white silk shirt and tan breeches were now garments of fine, close-fitting, black silk with tiny flecks of silver glitter embedded in their delicate fibers. His boots reached his knees, their silver rows of sharp buckles complimenting the subtleness of the glimmer in his clothing. Turning down the claw-like collar that matched the coat's cuffs, Jareth cocked his head, pondering what else he needed for his current ensemble. A smirk tugged the corner of his pale lips as he gazed into his upturned palm, a satin black ribbon materializing from his skin to rest there. With a few simple movements, the Goblin King tied the length of his blond hair back, approving of his choice. He considered his great vanity an unsurpassable art form.
The Goblin King descended the stairs from his chambers and made his way through the darkened corridors toward the prison. The scarce candles lighting his path flickered to green and dipped low at his approach and resumed their steady vigil at his passing. He weaved down several more cases before the heavy cell door stamped with iron bars was before him. The two armored sentries at either side of it saluted him before one exposed the great ring of rusty skeleton keys to unlock the door. It opened with a shrill creak and Jareth bent low to step inside.
The youth was in a daze and slumped against the wall, his thin wrists bound by steel cuffs that connected to the windowless wall by thick chains. His chin rested weakly against his chest and his hair hung in damp tendrils over his face. The wretched sight of him sent Jareth into a rage. He rounded on the sentries.
"What is this?! I told you to heal him, not to treat him like a dog! Unchain him," he snapped.
The guards jumped into immediate action. Tiny keys on the great rings were fumbled before the fitting one was found and used to unlatch the unbreakable restraints.
"Honestly, can't I trust you to do anything right? It's a wonder I allow you to keep all your limbs intact." The Goblin King stepped forward and took the youth into his arms, glaring at the prison guards. He stood and exited the stifling cellar, furious that he would have to take matters into his own hands.
The child was barely conscious and all but completely unconcerned with his surroundings as Jareth carried him back toward his own rooms. A few stray goblins in the spacious corridors backed against the walls and bowed their heads until their king passed, wondering at the strange newcomer. They eyed one another curiously but said nothing.
The Goblin King ascended the final flight of steps and entered his room, silently commanding the candles to life. The room was instantly bathed in soft golden light as the master of the Labyrinth laid his caller upon his own bed. Against the deep crimson of its sheets, the youth looked even paler than Jareth had thought. Pressing the back of his hand to the young man's forehead was all he needed to realize that the creature carried a fever.
The king stood straight and gazed down indecisively at the mortal left to his mercy. The finely carved features of the youth's face cast smooth shadows over his countenance from the dancing flames. His hair was as soft, light, and long as Jareth's, though thicker and evenly cut. The Goblin King's gaze softened as it drank in the mortal's beauty. Without so much a warning, those pale eyelids that feigned sleep slowly opened.
Jareth held his breath as he met the icy blue eyes. And it was then that he realized the enormity of his chance. He could never forget such eyes that looked so much like his own. Only now they were older and far lovelier for the depth of their pain and sadness. For a long moment they stared at one another, the Goblin King in disbelief. He wondered if he had slipped into some vivid dream of an altered past. But his lips spoke without his thoughts to provoke them.
"I know you."
The youth trembled, a glimmer of fear written in his eyes. He spoke hesitantly, but as if to himself. "No, this is a dream."
Jareth stepped closer and the fear increased.
"How is it you've come back to me? Tell me why you've summoned me," the king demanded, becoming excited. His lips drew back in a greatly amused smile.
"I . . . I was dreaming. Wasn't I?" the young man said, fighting to remember.
"How rare this night is. I never imagined I'd see you again, my goblin babe."
To be continued . . .