By: Haley J. The Bat
Summary:Jareth comes to Sarah for a night of passion but finds that he's stuck in the mortal realm. Feelings resurface stronger than before.
Author's Notes:I apologize, firstly, for such a cliché title. I have a thing for naming fics after songs. *shrugs* Secondly, can you believe I wrote something this long? I, personally, am in awe. Thirdly, thanks to those who inspired me with their own fics. (I could never write a fanfic if not for the authors who set the stage.)
* * * * *
Sarah sighed heavily as she sat in front of her vanity after a hellish day at work. With tired eyes, she watched herself as she brushed her hair, unable to tear her eyes away from such a sad soul.
Very few people in her life knew just how hard everything was for her anymore. At work they piled her desk high with assignments - mostly because she wasn't one to ever say no. Toby, her younger brother, was starting high school, and Sarah spent a good part of her free time worrying that it would taint the smiling, happy child she'd come to love over the years. It had been about six years since her last boyfriend, so sexual tension on top of everything else didn't make her a happy camper.
Pulling her hair into a ponytail, Sarah shook her head sadly. "You're the only one who ever sees you like this," she whispered to her reflection. "Let's keep it that way, huh?"
She sprayed herself lightly with lavender vanilla aromatherapy perfume, looking forward to relaxing with a movie or a book, some quiet, soulful music . . . The idea of spending such a night at home was the most appealing thing she'd felt for in weeks. And that made Sarah very sad.
"I just wish I never had to grow up," she said, resting her chin in her hands forlornly. "I spent so much time wanting to be older, and now I wish I could . . . I wish I could believe in the fantasies that kept me going. Maybe then I could be happy again."
The phone rang, abruptly tearing apart the silence that surrounded her, and Sarah leapt up to get the phone in the kitchen. "Hello?"
"Sarah, this is Karen. Frank and I are going to have a garage sale, and there's still a pile of boxes with your stuff in the basement. What did you want to do with them?"
Sarah knitted her brow together and leaned against the fridge. "I-I don't know. This is rather abrupt."
"We want to have the garage sale before the end of the summer. It will help to pay for Toby's new wardrobe - the one he insists on having if he's to go to high school," Karen said with such aggravation that Sarah could just picture her rolling her eyes and frowning.
"Maybe I should come over this weekend and sort through them," Sarah said speculatively. "I can't quite remember what's in them, so there might be a few things I want to keep."
"That sounds fine. Drop by anytime on Sunday afternoon and stay for supper, all right? Oh, hold on. Toby wants to say hello. Bye, Sarah."
"Bye," Sarah said softly and waited for the phone to be passed between family members.
"Sarah!" Toby greeted enthusiastically. "I was helping Mom go through the boxes in the basement, and I found this really cool book that Mom says used to be yours. I'm going to use it for the next book report I have because we were supposed to do some summer reading anyway."
Sarah clutched the cord of the phone tightly in her hand. A long-forgotten fear rose up and made her choke, but she swallowed tightly. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Toby."
"What? Why not?" Toby sounded extremely disappointed.
"You're talking about The Labyrinth, aren't you?"
"I think so . . . yeah. It's a little red book."
"I . . . I just never . . ." Sarah trailed off. She didn't believe in fairy - or goblin - tales any longer, and she hadn't for quite some time. Yet she didn't want Toby spreading word of this book around, and it shamed her to realize that some part of her was still worried that others would be faced with the predicament she'd been, and that they wouldn't be able to solve the Labyrinth. "It means a lot to me, Toby, and I wanted to keep it."
"Oh, okay," Toby said, sounding cheerful again. "Hey, can I spend the night this Saturday? I heard you're coming over on Sunday, and all you'd have to do is just drive me back since you're going anyway."
"Um . . ." What else was there in her life? "Sure. I'll rent movies, and we can stay up all night eating junk food. Sound good?"
"Great!" Toby paused for a second, and she heard the phone shift. "Oh. I have to go because dinner's ready, but I'll call you on Saturday, okay?"
"Okay. Love you, Toby," Sarah said. Toby had already hung up.
Another sigh, her favorite form of expression anymore, was released from her lungs as she put the phone back on its hook and went into her bedroom to sit at her vanity once more. The glass in the mirror shimmered slightly, and she looked at it curiously. It used to be that the mirror would shimmer before she saw Hoggle, Ludo, or Didymus in the background.
"That's stupid," she hissed, rolling her eyes and reaching for the eye makeup remover. "You're being stupid. The Labyrinth was a book that fueled your imagination a little more vividly than it had ever been before, and that's saying a lot. There are no such things as goblins, or Hoggles, or rock-singing monsters. And definitely not a Bog of Eternal Stench and a fox who can't smell." Sarah shook her head firmly and glared at the depths of the mirror, her gaze softening as she saw the sad little girl still desperate for her three friends. "But if there were such things . . . No. Forget it."
Sarah stood up, suddenly too nervous to finish her nightly routine of removing her makeup, cleaning up, and going to bed. There was something alive in her now, and her attempts at squashing it were failing miserably.
"The Goblin King," Sarah said viciously to herself, stopping and crossing her arms. "You used to dream about a Goblin King. Not Rhett Butler or Tom Hanks or any of the boys at school. You used to have fantasies about a man who existed only in your imagination, a man who tormented you in your own imagination. God, I'm some kind of sick, perverted freak, aren't I?"
Hands still tight around her rib cage, she walked to the mirror again and leaned down to look into it again. "I need my old fantasies. I need you guys."
The silence after her confession was so still the sound of her heartbeat deafened her to anything else. When a minute or two had past, she straightened and refused to meet her own eyes in the mirror. "You're pathetic, Williams."
"Oh, I wouldn't go that far."
Sarah whirled around with a scream and backed up against her wall. There - sitting on her bed and inspecting a gloved finger - was the Goblin King. "What . . . I-I called for my friends," she protested weakly.
Jareth arched his eyebrow. "Did you? Think about it."
Sarah tried to remember her words. "I said . . . I need you guys." Her shoulders straightened. "You are not included in a-"
"I would not be able to be here if some part of you hadn't wanted it when you said those words," Jareth said softly. "You did say you needed your fantasies, did you not?"
"This is ridiculous," Sarah whispered. "Not only do I talk to myself and indulge in my fifteen-year-old imagination, but now I'm talking to one of them."
"Ah, yes. I do remember hearing something about fantasizing." Jareth's eyes were playful. "I must admit I was surprised to hear such a confession from you."
"It's not real, Sarah. Goblins aren't real."
With a sudden look of steel, Jareth was off the bed and pushing her against the wall forcefully. "Don't ever say that again. Every time someone says they don't believe in goblins, somewhere one of my subjects dies." He pressed his knee in between her thighs. "And don't for a second believe I'm not real, because I will gladly prove you wrong on that account. Though I'm not sure you'd mind."
Sarah shut her eyes tightly and tried to control her trembling. "Please go away. I don't . . . I can't deal with this."
"You're the one who called me here, darling," Jareth whispered.
Sarah popped her eyes open to see his face not an inch away from her. She pounded him with her fists, pushing him away and moving to the center of the room where she couldn't be cornered again. "I didn't call you. I don't need an excuse of a man, and I never will need you!"
"Let me set a few things straight. One, I am not a man. Two, don't ever degrade me by calling me such again. Three, you called me for a reason. Four, I do not know that reason. Five, I do not care."
"If you don't care, then go back to your Goblin City," Sarah said, pointing to the mirror.
"Because . . ." A slow, predatory smile slid across his face. "I have the chance to take something I've wanted for a long time. How many years has it been, Sarah?"
"Fifteen." She tilted her chin in a defiant way she hadn't used in years. "And you're not taking me back with you. I didn't wish myself away, and nobody else has or will."
"What makes you so certain of that?" Jareth shrugged. "Besides, that's not what I was talking about taking."
Sarah looked up at him suddenly. Was he implying that he meant to . . . Sarah gulped, and the feeling of her blood pumping suddenly at the thought angered her. That anger fueled her to go forward and deny that her blood's course had speeded up. "You're a sick bastard, you know that? If you're expecting-"
"I believe it is you, dear Sarah, who fantasized about me," Jareth stated calmly. "Perhaps I just wish to grant you your dreams again."
"Leave! Get out of here!" Sarah marched right up to him and pushed him backwards. A split second later she realized that had been a big mistake. Jareth had finally been pushed too far, and he took her wrists in his painfully with one hand, the other tilting her head to look him straight in the eye.
"Don't play games with me, Sarah. I can smell it on you." He tilted his face to brush against the side of her neck. "You want me."
Sarah's lids felt heavy at his words whispered so close that the hair all over her body stood on end, begging for him to touch her, for his lips to . . . "No!" Sarah struggled against him. "This is rape!"
Jareth smirked. "It's not rape if you're willing, my dear. Or haven't you ever heard that before?" He paused and watched her trying to get away from him. "But I suppose it doesn't matter. You always wanted me to play the villian, didn't you? If I made the decisions, you could pretend you didn't want what I did. That way you could blame me instead of feeling guilty."
Sarah stopped struggling enough to glare at him. "That's not true at all! You are a villain. You stole my brother-"
"At your request," Jareth reminded her.
"Argh! I hate you!" Sarah stomped her foot, and the action immediately turned her face hot. She hadn't acted like a spoiled brat for years now. If any of her friends could see her now . . . "You love to bring out the worst in me, don't you?"
"I could say the same of you." Jareth's eyes fell down, and she realized that he was studying her lips. "Are you quite done arguing?"
"No," she whispered with no conviction. Her heart was thudding so loudly that she knew he could hear it. Just another humiliation in the long list I'm sure he has written about me.
Jareth shrugged. "You must understand that I will have what I want. It is your choice to be willing or pretend you don't want me to ravish you."
"You're sick." Sarah quivered as his thumb stroked the pulse at her wrist.
"Believe what you must." Jareth leaned to her throat again. "But might I comment on how your pulse seems erratic?"
"Because I'm about to be raped," Sarah reminded him, ending in a whimper as his lips finally fell upon her jaw line. "Stop."
Jareth's smile could be felt as he trailed along her jaw line. "I'm having so much fun though," he murmured.
"Stop," Sarah repeated, closing her eyes in pleasure.
"Oh, all right." Jareth abruptly let her go and backed away, a self-riotous smile on his face.
"Bastard," Sarah spat.
"You asked me to stop," Jareth said innocently as he started towards her again.
"That didn't necessarily mean anything," Sarah replied, backing up as he towered over her. "Quit it."
"Is this reverse psychology?" Jareth sighed.
Sarah felt the edge of her bed at the back of her legs, but instead of bolting, she waited until Jareth's hands were pushing her down on the mattress. He lifted her legs up and spread her across the bed with a predatory smile. "You really are an enchanting creature, Sarah."
"I don't like you."
"Really?" Jareth looked surprised. "Well, I don't like you either." He smiled teasingly and covered her body with his own. "Can you tell?"
Sarah clutched at his shoulders when he pressed his hips into her, making it very clear what his intentions were. Not that she hadn't already known. "Oh, god."
"What? Am I displeasing you?" Jareth asked as he began to tug at her shirt.
"Yes," Sarah moaned when his hand brushed across her breast.
When he had gotten her shirt off and started to unclasp her bra, she stiffened. It wasn't fair that he had all the control, she realized. Even if she wasn't a spoiled 15-year-old anymore, that didn't mean she'd let go of her need to dominate. It wasn't fair that she was practically melting at his touch and he seemed so unaffected. She determined to make him tremble with need, too. He should see what it's like to be seduced.
Sarah raised her hands to shrug out of the straps after he'd undone the back, and then she stretched them to grasp the bedpost, arching her body up against his. "Jareth . . ." she mumbled, drawing the name out in a way that elicited a slight intake of breath in the Goblin King. It was hard to hide her triumphant smile. So he wasn't as unaffected by her as he'd had her thinking. Good.
Jareth lowered his head and took one of her nipples between his teeth. All plans of retaliation flew from her mind at the sudden shock of pleasure that went straight to her center. Her hands tightened on the bedpost, and she let out a sound she couldn't recall making before.
Hate was a very strong word for someone who could . . . Sarah trailed off in her thoughts as she dug her fingers in his hair. She could feel the smug smile against her skin, but she ignored it for the time being. There was no reason for her to deny herself this . . . this.
How many years had she wasted on the Goblin King? It had been fifteen years; fifteen awfully long years during which Sarah had grown from a child into an adult, but she hadn't feel any older since he'd appeared in her bedroom a few minutes ago.
"Please," Sarah whispered when he pulled away. Her eyes squeezed shut when she said this; the fifteen-year-old buried beneath the years was screaming at her for showing weakness to Jareth.
Jareth's face appeared in front of hers when she opened her eyes, and he was giving her a deathly look. "Don't ever beg me, Sarah," he said raggedly but sincerely. "It ruins my image of you."
"And what is your image of me?" Sarah ventured to ask, feeling that spike of superiority rise in her again.
"This is a rather lovely image." Jareth pushed himself up onto the palms of his hands and looked her over with a smirk.
Don't let him do that!Sarah kept her eyes on his as she trailed a hand down to his thighs. Without changing her expression at all, she cupped him tightly in her palm. "Is this image any better?"
Jareth, surprised at an action he obviously hadn't anticipated, clenched his fists beside her. His eyes shut tight, and his jaw opened slightly as he let out a groan. "God, yes."
"Finally," Sarah whispered, proud of herself.
"What?" Jareth managed to ask, struggling to appear in control.
"I was wondering whether you could be denounced into a needy mass of male libido," Sarah said conversationally as she tugged at his shirt, pulling it from his breeches and over his head.
"I can assure you I don't feel the least bit denounced," Jareth purred, leaning down and taking her ear lobe in between his teeth. "Keep exploring. I don't mind."
Sarah felt the heady desire that had subsided for a moment come crashing on her again as his hand reached up to cup her breast. She arched into his palm and grasped his back. "You got rid of the gloves."
"Magic, luv," he explained.
"Can you magic away . . . oh, god . . . the rest of our clothing?" Sarah asked.
"Of course not. That would spoil some of the fun," Jareth said. As if to prove his point, he trailed one of his hands down to the waist of her jeans. He worked the button for a second before letting out a growl. "How the bloody hell do you work these contraptions?"
Sarah wanted to laugh, but she was distracted by the prospect of taking her pants off. She reached for the button and undid it quickly. "Think you can handle the rest?"
"Is everything between us a challenge?" Jareth sighed and pushed his hand inside her jeans to help pull them off. Sarah lifted her hips, and she kicked them against the wall when he'd gotten the pants down to her ankles.
"Is that a challenge?" Sarah whispered jokingly. She lifted her legs and clasped them around his back, pressing his arousal straight up against her and making her feel like she'd taken a whole box of Nyquil. "Oh, my god. Oh . . ."
Jareth's hips jerked into her, and his back trembled slightly. "Would you mind terribly if I cheated you out of some of your fun?"
"Not at all," she replied, knowing what he meant. In a split second, her ankles clasped at the backs of his thighs were touching bare skin. "I think you missed a spot," she said, lifting her hips again.
"I spoiled your fun, but I will never spoil my own." Jareth sat up slightly, taking his weight onto his knees, and he reached for her panties. Sarah started to let her legs down so that he could get them off, but Jareth yanked hard, and the seams ripped, freeing her completely.
Okay, that was incredibly sexy.Sarah smiled slowly as he leaned back over her. "Fun?"
"I'm getting there." Jareth's eyebrows furrowed as he studied her face.
"What?" Sarah whispered, fearing that he'd suddenly realized how plain she was compared to him, compared to the women she was sure he was used to. "I'm sorry. I'll-"
"No. It's nothing," Jareth told her firmly before entering her as if to prove his point.
At that point, Sarah lost her perception of time, and everything in her world narrowed to Jareth. He was a feast of the senses, overwhelming every thought in her head as he brought her closer and closer to the edge.
This is completely . . . insane . . .she told herself, managing a free thought in the madness. She looked up at him with heavy-lidded eyes, and what she saw surprised her. Instead of the cool, always in control Goblin King, he had his eyes locked shut and a look of deep concentration. Sweat had formed at his brow, and already his hair was clinging to the nape of his neck.
Sarah reached a hand up and cupped his cheek gently; his eyes opened in surprise, but he kept his rhythm. "Why?" Sarah asked quietly.
Jareth arched an eyebrow, that indifferent look back on his face, and he didn't reply. Instead he moved one of his hands to tweak her breast, thus wiping the question that had popped up so suddenly in her mind.
Mere seconds later she was digging her nails into his back, biting his shoulder, as her release hit her, release from the tirade of physical emotions that had been plaguing her since he'd shown up in her house. Her cry ended in a sob, and she fell back on the bed, watching Jareth strip away his control completely above her. He let loose a cry that sounded like it could have been "Sarah", but he had fallen on top of her before she could contemplate.
Breathing filled the air, and Sarah fell asleep almost immediately.
* * * * *
Jareth woke abruptly when the sun rose, the feeling of something not right invading his system. He lifted himself onto his elbows and looked around. His surroundings and the warm body that had a leg slung over his waist reminded him of last night, and he let himself fall back, cursing as he laid a hand over his eyes.
This was not supposed to happen. He had been intent on breaking Sarah, on showing her that she wasn't as indifferent as she pretended. Perhaps he'd misjudged, blinded by the feelings she provoked after fifteen years of scattered dreams.
She had asked him why, and he couldn't answer her. At that moment it seemed that all of the emotions were so tight inside him that he would snap and tell her more than she ever needed to know. That could never happen, which was why he should transport back to the Underground. Right now.
Jareth tried to muffle his groan. One couldn't go to the Underground unless they really meant it, and the fact that he hadn't blinked to find himself in his private chambers said more than he wanted said.
Sarah stirred behind him, ran a questioning hand across his chest, and jumped back with a horrified gasp. "What the-" She took the blanket and wrapped it underneath her arms, releasing a great sigh as she appeared to remember. "Oh, god."
"Not pleased to see me?" Jareth asked coolly as he turned to get out of her bed. "Are you at least going to feed me? That would be a common courtesy."
"Don't-don't do that!"
"What?" He turned to face her, perplexed, to see her covering her eyes.
"Walking around . . . naked," she pointed out, voice squeaky.
"You don't appreciate what you see?" Jareth looked at her thoughtfully. "You seemed to appreciate me last night."
"Oh, don't you dare do that!" Sarah seemed angered enough to drop her hands from her eyes, glaring at him.
Jareth was at a loss. "Do what?"
"Don't be one of those smug, man's man guys who has to bring up the fact that we slept together at every possible moment." Sarah kept the sheet carefully around her body as she stood up.
Jareth frowned. This was not good at all, so he used magic to make the sheet disappear.
Sarah shrieked and tried to cover herself. "What the hell did you do that for?"
"You're very beautiful, Sarah. You don't have to hide yourself," he replied, stepping in on her again and pushing her onto the bed.
Sarah was so surprised by his words that she didn't protest, as he'd expected.
* * * * *
"Okay, this isn't good at all," Sarah said to herself about an hour later as she looked down at Jareth's still, sleeping form.
Or, at least, pretend-sleeping form. "You have a peculiar habit of speaking to yourself, Sarah."
"It's not peculiar. It's quirky." Sarah smiled at him as he opened his eyes.
"Oh, it's peculiar," Jareth said solemnly. "I might have to check you out. Just to make sure there's nothing physically wrong with you." He shifted to his side and was almost on top of her before she got a chance to put her hands firmly on his shoulders.
"Stop. We can't keep doing this."
"Because . . . because I don't want to." That was a lie; she wanted nothing more than to never leave this bed again. Jareth's good looks had inspired her many fantasies, and she didn't feel any of them went unfulfilled. "I . . . I want to . . . I want to talk."
Jareth sighed and fell onto his back. "That's ridiculous. Talking is completely overrated."
"This is weird, okay?" Sarah sat up in the bed and crossed her arms. "I haven't seen anything from the Underground for fifteen years, and one night I muse to myself . . . and then you're in my room. Then out of nowhere you attack me and have your wicked way with me."
"I resent that. If you're thinking 'wicked', you have yet to see my best work. And I only attacked you because you weren't going to attack me."
"Are you even attracted to me?" Sarah asked exasperatedly.
Jareth turned his head to give her a look.
"Okay, I guess that was a stupid question," Sarah admitted, blushing. "But . . . I just can't accept this. I need to know why."
"Because, Sarah, when a beautiful woman calls my name and seeks me out, I am known to take full advantage of the situation."
Sarah felt something sting inside, but she pushed that feeling away almost as soon as it came over her. "Oh. I-I . . ." Here she was, the stuttering girl she'd been before. Though it was a good thing that she and Jareth weren't baiting each other (yet), she preferred being able to keep her thoughts together and having enough self-will to say anything she pleased.
"I guess I'll get breakfast started," Sarah mumbled, climbing over Jareth to get off the bed.
When she reached for her clothing, Jareth stopped her by clasping her arm almost painfully. "If you put your clothes back on, I will have to kill you."
"What? Why?" Sarah looked up at him in confusion.
Jareth tugged her against his body and let her feel him against her hip. "Because the thought of you cooking for me in absolutely nothing is quite appealing, dear one."
"Oh," Sarah whispered when he pulled away again. That is, if I can gather my thoughts enough to be able to fry an egg.
Jareth went into her living room and began to inspect some of the furniture and magazines she had lying about. Sarah stopped for a moment, leaning against the doorway of the living room, and admired his literally otherworldly beauty. Something about him was so alluring, and it was the sheath around a sharp dagger of danger. For the hundredth time Sarah found herself wondering what the hell she'd gotten herself into, but this time she thought it with an amused shake of her head.
With another studied look that Jareth pointedly didn't notice, she returned to the kitchen and began to get things out to fix breakfast. It felt weird and strange to have no clothes on, but at the same time it made her feel different and edgy, something she usually didn't feel through her muted life of work, a few friends, and her family.
It took her half an hour to make breakfast, and as she was setting out a plate for Jareth at the table, the phone rang shrilly.
"What in the Underground is that?" Jareth growled, looking around sharply. "It's the most horrid sound I've ever heard."
"Just wait till you meet an alarm clock," Sarah muttered as she went to the phone and picked it up. "Hello?"
"Sarah? This is Josh."
Oh, my God!"J-Josh," she stuttered. A quick glance at the clock made her wince, and she struggled to come up with a lie. "God, I meant to call you, but I must have fallen back asleep again. I woke up with a temperature this morning, and I haven't felt any better since."
"Oh." She heard the frown in his voice. "I understand, but you're required to call in sick."
"I know. I'm very, very sorry. I can come in one day this weekend, maybe to make up for it? Tomorrow?"
"That won't be necessary. I'm not going to report this because you're rarely sick, but please don't make a habit of not calling in," Josh said firmly.
"Okay, Josh. Again, I'm sorry." Sarah put the phone back on the hook and crossed her arms, eyes shut tightly.
"Who was that?"
Abruptly opening her eyes again, she glared hard at Jareth. Without answer, she stomped into the bedroom, pulled a nightshirt out of her drawer, and threw it on over her head.
"What do you think you're doing?" Jareth asked, sounding more curious than angry. "Did I do something to upset you?"
"Yes, you did!" Sarah hissed as she found a pair of sleep pants that used to belong to her father. Tossing them to him, she added, "Put those on. There will be no more walking around naked in my house."
Jareth must have been surprised because he put the pants on immediately and followed her back into the kitchen. "Why are you acting like this?"
"Because I just missed a day of work for . . . for . . . this," Sarah cried out, sitting at the table. "Now eat your goddamn breakfast and get the hell out of here!"
This seemed to break Jareth's spell, and his eyes took on a dangerously sharp, cold look. Very carefully he sat down at his chair, and very deliberately he spread a napkin on his lap. "You will do well not to order me around, Sarah."
Despite her fear at his sudden change, Sarah snorted. "Oh, please. What are you going to do about it?"
"Would you really like to try my patience?"
Sarah swallowed heavily. The glint in his eyes made it very clear she wasn't just dealing with a man who got off on threatening people; she was dealing with the Goblin King, a man who . . . well, she didn't know quite what. "No, I suppose not."
"That's better. Tell me why you changed your outward expression," Jareth said as he took a delicate bite of his eggs. He nodded slightly as if approving them, and Sarah resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
"Look, I have a job. I have responsibilities. You may not understand responsibility, so-"
"I am a king, Sarah. I understand responsibility more than a commoner like you."
She opened and closed her mouth wordlessly. "A-a commoner?" she demanded, outraged. "Of all the things to say, you insult me?"
"That was not an insult, but merely an observation. Is your family of a high class in the royalty of the Aboveground?"
"We don't have royalty here! And I'm very well off, thank you. How much do you think an apartment like this costs?"
"It's rather small-"
"This is New York. I wasn't expecting a two story house when I went out searching for a place to live!"
"My point is, Sarah, that I know responsibility," Jareth said dismissively. "Now continue with your story about why you became so angry."
"I have a job," Sarah repeated. "I work for money, and that's how I pay for this place and the food you eat. It's how I pay for everything. You can't just not go to work, and I didn't even call in to pretend sick."
"Isn't that your own fault?"
"It's your fault, buddy," Sarah said, pointing her fork at him accusingly. "You came here out of nowhere last night, raped me, and distracted me all morning."
A few seconds passed, and then Jareth started to chuckle. "Sarah, really."
"What?" Sarah growled, giving him a look that dared him to question her logic. This was his fault, and there was no way around it! She was a nice, good, honest person - not someone who-who jumped into bed with her childhood enemy. God, she didn't even jump into bed with her boyfriends. Well, not immediately anyway. Sarah ducked her head, groaned inwardly, and began to eat her food as a way to avoid looking at him.
"You can't possibly believe, even now, that you weren't willing." Jareth sighed and leaned back in his seat speculatively. "I enjoyed last night, Sarah. Please don't spoil it by trying to deny that I gave you no pleasure."
A slight blush tinged her cheeks; Sarah wasn't used to talking about sex with just anyone. "I don't even know you," she continued quietly. "I acted rashly, and I'm sorry. When are you going home?"
There was a long pause during which Sarah looked up at him sharply. Jareth eventually sighed and met her eyes wearily. "I don't know."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean exactly what I say. I don't know when I'm going to go back to the Underground," Jareth said testily.
"Why? Is something wrong? Or do you not want to go?" Sarah crinkled her brow and studied him. He seemed nervous and slightly twitchy, very unlike the Goblin King.
"I do not wish to speak about it," he snapped and stood up from the table. "Where do you go to clean yourself up?"
"You mean a shower?" Sarah pointed to the bathroom. "Do you know how to work a shower?"
Jareth went to the door, stopped what seemed to be painfully, and turned to shoot her a look. "No. I-I . . . do not know what you're talking about."
Sarah was concerned by the look on his face, and she understood suddenly. Jareth wasn't used to being at a disadvantage, and here on her turf, he couldn't know what half the things around him meant. That was why he'd been so fascinated by everything in her living room.
Without finishing her breakfast, Sarah stood up silently and led him into the bathroom. She turned the faucet on and turned to make sure he was watching. "This is the water, and you can adjust it by-"
Jareth's eyebrow arched just slightly, and he backed against the door, effectively shutting it. "Perhaps you might just join me, Sarah. Then I could learn . . . hands on." He leered at her wantingly, causing a warm current to shoot up suddenly from her core.
Her first instinct was to deny him and try to get out, but she shoved that down and straightened. "Yes. Perhaps that would be best," she whispered.
* * * * *
Jareth learned quite a bit about showers in the next half hour, but the most disturbing thing he learned was that the hot water couldn't last forever. He had been working his mouth across Sarah's neck when the slowly cooling water suddenly turned icy against his skin. With a jerk, he pushed himself back to where the water couldn't hit him. "What happened?"
Sarah laughed throatily and leaned to turn the faucets off. "We ran out of hot water. It happens when you stay in for awhile," she explained, standing there, dripping wet.
Jareth let his eyes roam over her hungrily, and a stab of rebellion hit him in the stomach. This was a mortal girl. Someone to certainly play with, but he had been here far too long. And there was a disturbing thought that kept entering his mind. I never want to leave.
"I should blow dry my hair before it frizzes up," Sarah said softly, pushing the curtain aside. "I'll get you a towel and be out in about twenty minutes."
Jareth nodded distractedly as she handed him a towel. The fabric was strange, but he understood what to do with it anyway. With it firmly wrapped around his waist, he allowed himself to be pushed out of the bathroom and went to sit on the couch.
She's a mortal, he told himself again, shaking his head and leaning back on the cushions. She's not even that that good at sex. Why are you so damned intrigued?
". . . You have no power over me!"
Jareth jerked when he heard her voice echo through the years and into her apartment. It was just a memory, nothing more, but it did nothing to calm him. Memories could be dangerous if they were let to become the better of one.
Jareth held his head in his hand and mumbled, "Take me back to the Underground right now."
Nothing happened, and Jareth's stomach sunk a little lower. This wasn't right at all. That-that woman! Sarah had done this - somehow. It was her fault! Jareth furiously regarded the door to her restroom. When she came out, he would force her to send him back where he rightly belonged. Then he would forget about the few times they'd had sex, he'd forget that he'd enjoyed it more than he had in years, and he would never think about the sorry mortal woman again.
* * * * *
Sarah blew her hair dry and put a little bit of makeup on while Jareth waited outside. It took all of her concentration to not think of Jareth or what in god's name she was doing, but she did manage to keep him out of her thoughts.
When she opened the door and went into the living room, Jareth was sitting on the couch with a guarded, cold look in his eyes. As soon as he spotted her, he stood up abruptly and pushed his shoulders back regally. "Tell me how you got me to come here."
Sarah squinted at him. "What are you talking about? You said that you heard me wish for-for . . . my fantasies, and then you appeared."
"That's not it!" Jareth shouted, coming closer as he lost control and let his rage out. "There has to be something else that you did. What did you do to me?"
"What . . . what do you mean?" Sarah asked, leaning back against the wall and looking at him with sudden fear. His anger came out of nowhere, and she was reminded just how much power this man held, barely contained, underneath his skin.
"I mean that something is keeping me here," Jareth spat, giving her a disgusted look. "I want to know why you're doing this to me."
"Why I'm doing this to you?" Sarah snorted, regaining some of her confidence and standing up straight again. "Excuse me! I'm just having such a blast with you here, yelling at me whenever you're not fucking me. Being ungrateful and horrible and you won't leave!"
"I told you that I can't leave," Jareth said. "If I could, I would have a long time ago."
Sarah felt a rage of her own coming out to greet his. "You haven't even been here twenty four hours."
"And I want to go home already! Your world is useless," Jareth said, waving a hand around. "You have to cook food the old fashioned way - primitively. Everything is primitive, and yet you are so content. How? How do you do it?"
"Because it's what I'm used to." Sarah closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and then regarded him again. "You can't leave?"
"I've tried, but nothing happens."
"Do you have your magic?"
Jareth twisted his hands in front of him, and three crystal balls appeared floating before him. "I suppose I do."
"But your magic can't take you home?"
"It is not my magic that transports me to and from the Underground. The Labyrinth itself is what does it," Jareth explained as though she were stupid for not knowing.
"Then perhaps it is your precious Labyrinth that's keeping you here."
Jareth looked surprised at her logic, and he sat down again. Sarah recognized that he wasn't interested in the conversation anymore, so she went to her room to change into clean clothes.
* * * * *
Sarah managed to avoid Jareth effectively for a while. After changing, she did the dishes and threw out what she and Jareth had left behind. She then did a quick dusting and picking up of her entire house, not taking long at all. If she was going to have a sick day, she might as well use it. And besides that, it was nice to have something to do; it kept her from dwelling too much on the Goblin King.
"How does this work?"
Sarah looked up suddenly from where she'd been going through some papers. Jareth was kneeling in front of the TV and looking at it curiously. "What happens when you press this 'on' button?"
"It's . . . it's a picture box, I guess," Sarah said, getting on the floor and kneeling beside him. "We use it for entertainment and for knowledge."
Jareth pressed the button, and a TV show flickered onto the screen. The sudden colors surprised Jareth, and he jerked backwards, putting a hand out to put Sarah behind him, almost as if he was trying to protect her. Sarah almost giggled at the sentiment, but he seemed rather concerned by what was happening. "It's all right," she assured him. "It's like . . . a play. Do they have plays in the Underground?"
"It's a play that-that anybody can watch at a certain time of day. Only if you have this TV though," Sarah said, trying hard to describe to him something that she'd just always accepted. "There are all different kinds of them, and we call them TV shows. You can watch almost anything - almost like having a bunch of plays going on at the same time, and you can go back and forth until you find one you like."
Jareth put his hand down from in front of her and sat back on his heels. "This is fascinating," he said, eyes fixed to the screen.
"Don't watch this though," Sarah said quickly, changing the channel. "I wouldn't be able to stand it if you got addicted to soap operas."
"What are you doing?" A look of concern passed over Jareth's features again.
"It's okay. I'm just switching between the-the plays. See?" She stopped on a channel for a second. "This is okay. Do you want to watch the TV?"
"Your world is very strange," Jareth said as if in reply.
"That's exactly what I thought of your world fifteen years ago," Sarah said, smiling. She left him riveted to the screen so that she could get to work on her bills.
It was hours later when Jareth suddenly stood up and started rubbing his neck. "I don't think that thing is safe. It's hurting my neck."
Sarah snickered softly and turned it off with the remote. "Televisions have a nasty habit of doing that." She stood up from the table and went to stand behind him. "Let me work out the kink for you."
Jareth stilled as she dug her thumbs into the back of his neck, massaging gently for a minute or two then releasing him. "Feel better?"
Jareth turned around, and the darkness in his eyes made her gasp softly. "Why do you do that?" he asked, leaning forward.
"Make me want you." Jareth leaned down and sucked lightly on her neck. The combination of his words and his lips made her feel like she'd suddenly lost balance, but his arms were around her waist before she could fall to the ground. The hands weren't as angelic as she would have thought because a second later they were working at undoing her jeans. It took him a little longer than necessary, but he managed to get the button undone this time.
When her jeans dropped to the floor, she stepped out of them and dug her hands in his hair, arching so that he would be pressed more firmly against her neck. "Why do you keep doing this?" she asked, breath ragged.
"I don't have to have reasons," Jareth said in a familiarly kinglike way.
"No, you don't," Sarah agreed. As long as you just go a little bit lower . . .
Jareth's hands traveled down to her thighs, and he pulled her up closer to him. When she was head to head with him, legs wrapped tightly around his waist, she realized suddenly that in all the times they'd had sex, he hadn't once kissed her. She felt him clutch her suddenly tighter when she leaned her face down, slowly though she didn't know why.
And in a cliché manner, somebody knocked on the door and opened it.
Sarah jerked her head away from Jareth's to see Rebecca, a friend from work, walk in and freeze in the doorway. "Oh, god, Sarah. I'm so sorry," Rebecca said quickly, turning around.
Jareth let Sarah drop to the ground, and she tugged her jeans back on as fast as she could. "You can turn around now."
Rebecca did so slowly, a huge blush on her face. "I'm really sorry. I wouldn't have barged in on you if I'd known . . ."
"It's all right. This is Jareth. Jareth, this is my friend Rebecca," Sarah introduced, trying to fight the desire that had been slamming through her before Rebecca interrupted.
"It's, um, nice to meet you," Rebecca mumbled.
Jareth arched an eyebrow. "I wish I could say the same."
"Jareth!" Sarah elbowed him, and he gave her a warning look. "Did you come over for something, Rebecca?"
"Oh! I have . . . soup!" Rebecca held up a package from Subway. "It's not the best soup, but it was on the way home. I just figured that if you were so sick you didn't call in, you'd be too sick to cook for yourself. But now I see you have someone to do it for you."
"You will not tell anyone of this," Jareth said suddenly. "I do not wish for Sarah to get into trouble in her working place."
Sarah turned to look at Jareth in surprise, but he was carefully avoiding her eyes. "You care?" she whispered.
"Of course I won't!" Rebecca said quickly. "We're too close for that. Right, Sarah?"
"Right." Sarah gave Rebecca a pointed look.
"Oh, right. Um . . . I'll just leave you two alone now. Enjoy the soup."
"Good-bye, Rebecca." Sarah followed her to the door and locked it as Rebecca left. "I'm sorry about that, Jareth. I should have-"
Jareth didn't say anything, but when he stood in front of her with those darkened eyes, she knew what his intent was. She barely had taken a breath before he had her pinned beneath him against the wall.
Their joining was fast, but she couldn't deny that it was just as pleasurable as if they'd spent hours in bed together. It was only when Jareth let her legs drop to the floor, still holding onto her, that she realized he still hadn't kissed her.
* * * * *
The night passed to morning with another tumble of sheets, but this time Sarah didn't wonder why. It just was, and that was all she could hope to accept. He was here, and they were together, and questioning herself further might break the spell that held it all together so shallowly.
With the morning came sunlight and peace, but the façade was pushed aside when the sound of a telephone woke Sarah. She climbed out of bed with a quick, reassuring kiss laid on Jareth's chest. In the kitchen she picked up the phone and groggily answered it.
"Sarah, it's Toby! Mom's bringing me over right now, okay?"
"Hmm?" Sarah struggled to make ends meet. "Isn't it morning?"
"It's almost twelve, you idiot," Toby said playfully. "I'll be over in about ten minutes. See ya then, Sarah!"
It took a minute or two of Sarah leaning against the wall with her eyes closed for what Toby said to sink in. "Oh, dear god!"
Sarah ran to the living room and looked around critically. The pile of her clothing that had been shed in front of the door stood out, and she picked them up to put in the bathroom hamper. A quick check of the bathroom indicated that everything was running smoothly, so she ran back into her bedroom to throw on some clothes and try to appear decent.
"Sarah, what are you doing?" Jareth asked, sitting up on his elbows and watching her pull on some undergarments.
"My little brother is coming over in a few minutes. I promised him he could stay the night," Sarah said frantically.
A moment's pause. "So?"
Sarah pulled on a clean pair of jeans and then searched for a T-shirt. "I couldn't exactly answer the door clothe less, could I?"
"If I wanted you to," Jareth began.
"Shut up," Sarah snapped. "I don't want to deal with your arrogance problem."
"What will you have me do?" Jareth asked, his voice unusually stoic.
Sarah winced, realizing she'd made a mistake by snapping at him. "Just . . . I don't know! I can't . . . ugh! Karen will absolutely die if she thinks I have a boyfriend." She tugged on a shirt and brushed through her hair quickly. "Just put something on."
"That I can do, luv."
Sarah stopped on her way out the doorway and gave him a surprised look. "Thank you, Jareth. You're not usually so . . . compliant."
"What are you implying?" Jareth asked, but there was a teasing glint in his eyes.
Sarah merely smiled and went into the bathroom. She had just gotten done washing her face when there was a knock at the door, and she went to answer it.
"Sarah!" Toby greeted with his biggest smile. "I got Mom to rent movies on the way here. Is that okay?"
"It's fine. Hello, Karen," Sarah said, hugging her stepmother before shutting the door behind them.
"Thank you for having Toby over. Frank and I rarely have time for a romantic evening alone," Karen said.
"It's nothing. I can put up with Toby quite well," Sarah said, mussing his hair even though she knew it annoyed him. "What time did you want me to come over tomorrow?"
"Oh, whenever you want. Remember that you're staying for dinner."
"Of course." Sarah was about to ask Karen about her father when a sound from the kitchen stopped her.
Jareth was walking in with a sleepy expression on his face. "Sarah, what in god's name is all this racket?"
Sarah's eyes froze in horror when she saw that all he had on was a sheet wrapped low on his hips, giving quite an indication of what he was doing there. "Jareth!" she hissed.
Jareth arched an eyebrow briefly at her, and she got it quickly. He was paying her back for her snapping at him earlier. "Is this your little brother? You said something of him coming over later."
Toby was laughing. "Guess I shouldn't ask how your night went, Sarah."
"Toby!" Karen scolded. "Um, hello . . . Jareth? I'm Karen, Sarah's stepmother."
Jareth walked into the living room and reached out a hand to shake first Karen's then Toby's. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I'm sorry that I'm dressed . . . or not dressed, rather, like this. I left my clothes in the shower room."
Sarah knew her face was as red as cherries. "Jareth, darling."
"Yes?" Jareth smiled warmly at her.
"Perhaps your clothes can wait a minute for me to throw them outside."
"And why would you want to do a thing like that?"
"I'll tell you later. I'm very sorry, Karen. He's irrepressible," Sarah said, sighing. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
Karen was laughing at Jareth. "Yes, tomorrow. Perhaps you should bring Mr. Jareth with you, hmm? It seems you two are rather close, maybe Frank would like to meet him."
"Good bye, Karen," Sarah said fake-sweetly, practically shoving her step mom out the door. As soon as it was shut and locked, she whirled around on Jareth and punched him in the chest. "You are the most frustrating man I've ever met before in my life!"
"You never said what I had to put on," Jareth teased.
"I hate you. Go put some clothes on and let me unscar my brother for life, okay?"
"As you wish." Jareth gave her one more leering smile before returning to the bedroom.
Sarah turned to a laughing Toby and blushed further. "I'm very, very sorry you had to witness any of that."
"I'm not," Toby said. "And don't worry; I'm not scarred for life. Now if it had been you coming out in a sheet, then I would have been effectively scarred."
Sarah clicked her tongue in annoyance. "Put your stuff up and pick a movie for us to watch while I fix something to eat, all right? Jareth and I haven't eaten yet."
"Make something for me, too. I'm hungry again."
"How does Dad raise enough money to keep you fed?" Sarah asked as she went into the kitchen.
"He pushes drugs to kindergartners."
"I always knew there was something fishy about him." Sarah reached into the cabinets and started pulling out the supplies to make simple cold cut sandwiches.
Jareth appeared at the doorway to her bedroom a moment later, this time dressed in the stretchy pants and a T-shirt that Sarah normally wore to sleep. "Good morning, luv. Sleep well?"
Sarah pointed a knife at him. "Don't tempt me. And what kind of meat do you want? Turkey or roast beef?"
"What do they taste like?"
Sarah picked off a piece of turkey and handed it to him. Rather than take it from her with his hands, he leaned down and used his lips, eyes coyly laughing at her. He closed his eyes as if in rapture. "Mmm . . . I'll take this one."
"I hate you."
Jareth stopped and looked at her strangely. "Do you?"
Jareth shook his head slightly. "Are you quite sure?"
"Look, I don't really hate you. I just said that because you made me mad."
"Oh. You're very confusing."
"So are you. Now leave me alone so I can make our lunch."
Jareth obediently went into the living room and sat down on the couch across from Toby. "Toby, is it? You've grown quite a bit."
"Have I met you before?" Toby asked.
Sarah threw the sandwiches together as quickly as possible. "Um . . . I knew him from high school, Toby. He remembers you from when you were a baby, probably. Right, Jareth?"
"As a babe, yes. You were quite the charming little fellow," Jareth said, looking at him with genuine pleasure. "I liked you quite a bit."
"Um . . ." Toby sounded like he had no idea how to reply to that. "You seem vaguely familiar to me. Isn't it weird how we can remember things from when we were so little?"
"Done!" Sarah practically ran into the living room and set a tray with three sandwiches on the coffee table. "What did you decide to watch, Tobe?"
"Braveheart," he said proudly.
Sarah wanted to protest, but she felt guilty for having forced Toby to see that his older sister was having sex. "Okay."
Toby chuckled. "I was just kidding, Sarah. Wanted to see how much I could hypothetically get away with."
Sarah rolled her eyes and picked up one of the sandwiches to offer to Jareth. He took it graciously, giving her a half smile. "Put whatever you want to watch in, then." She picked up her own sandwich and took a bite.
Toby jumped up, popped in a DVD, and went to sit on the couch. Sarah sighed contently when she realized it was Psycho, one of her favorite movies of all time. When she settled back into the loveseat, she felt the strangest sensation: Jareth's arm suddenly wrapping itself around her shoulders and pulling her close. At first Sarah was surprised, but after Toby hit play, she got too involved in the movie to notice.
* * * * *
After they watched that movie, Toby and Sarah taught Jareth how to play an interesting game called Monopoly. He first played paired with Sarah, then with Toby, then by himself. Each time, he or his team won.
When Sarah stood up, stretching, to declare that she was going to take a shower before they went out for dinner, Jareth quickly stood up and followed her.
"What do you think you're doing?" Sarah asked when she realized his intent.
Jareth smiled lecherously at her. "I'm going to take a shower with you again. I had such an enjoyable time yesterday."
Sarah turned around slowly and glared. "You will do no such thing."
"Why not?" Jareth was genuinely confused, and anger was slowly rising, too, at the prospect of being denied what he wanted.
"Because my brother is in the living room probably listening to us right now," she hissed.
Jareth turned around the hallway to see Toby quickly look down and around as if he hadn't been watching. "So?"
"People don't do these types of . . . things when other people are in the house. Especially if it's my little brother!"
Jareth frowned, contemplating her argument. Sarah had shown before that letting her family know she was having a sexual relationship was bothersome. Perhaps she just embarrassed easily. "All right, but I'm still sleeping in your bed tonight."
Sarah looked ready to protest, but Jareth interjected. "Where else will I sleep?"
"Okay," she agreed reluctantly. "Don't scare my brother while I'm taking a shower."
"I won't." Jareth kissed her cheek lightly and went back into the living room. "Hello, Toby."
"Oh, hi!" Toby said false-innocently.
Jareth grinned. "I know you were listening; you don't have to pretend."
Toby blushed slightly. "Sorry."
"Don't apologize." Jareth sat down on the loveseat and rubbed his forehead. "How old are you now? Fifteen, right?"
"Yeah. I'm going to start high school in a few weeks."
"I was privately tutored as a child," Jareth mused.
"I wanted to know something."
"Did your parents ever read The Labyrinth? Because you're the only person besides the Goblin King who I've ever heard of named Jareth."
Jareth stiffened. Sarah had let this incompetent child read the book? The book that he had given her? "You've read the book?"
"Yeah. Sarah left it at the house. You've heard of it?"
"I wrote it."
Toby's eyes widened. "You're joking."
"I only jest with certain people, and you are not one of them. Yet."
Toby smiled at Jareth's blunt words. "You really wrote the book?"
"That is how Sarah and I met each other. She was the first to read my book, you know," Jareth said. "That book is the only one in existence."
"The only one? It's so good! You could make millions, billions off it!"
Jareth shook his head. What would money matter to him? The only reason he'd written the book in the first place was so that he could lure Sarah into saying the words, so that he could get a taste of the girl whose dreams had enraptured him years and years ago. "It doesn't matter. It was written for Sarah and only Sarah."
Toby looked contemplative. "Do you love her?"
Jareth hadn't anticipated the question, so he lurched in his seat in surprise at the question, unable to keep a stoic expression. "I don't even know her," he said quickly. But that wasn't true. He knew her from watching her run the Labyrinth. He knew her body from the past day or two. He knew her mind from watching her through the mirror on and off in the past fifteen years. But did she know him?
"You seem awfully close to me," Toby said slyly.
"Sex and love are not the same thing," Jareth said stiffly, standing up and leaving the room just to make it clear that Toby was dismissed. Jareth may have had a soft spot for the little boy, but no one could get away with asking him personal questions!
Jareth began pacing the length of Sarah's room, hands clasped tightly behind his back. Why did a simple question from a mortal boy upset him this much? Why couldn't he get home? Why did he feel something that he wished not to decipher when he saw Sarah? And why did he have to stop himself from kissing her?
Jareth sighed and stopped suddenly, looking into the depths of the mirror. He'd noticed Sarah giving him odd looks, lifting her mouth as if seeking his, and all these actions stirred a desire he'd never felt before. In his culture, kissing was a sacred action that only those who felt very strongly for each other ventured into.
Suddenly Jareth saw a quiver in the mirror, as if the glass was rippling. He gripped the sides of the vanity and smashed his nose against the glass. "Let me back," he commanded in a haggard whisper. "Let me back in my kingdom lest you destroy it!"
"Jareth!" Sarah snapped, coming into the room and shutting the door. "What if Toby had heard you. He'd think you were insane!"
"It won't let me back!" Jareth jerked backward and pointed to the mirror accusingly. "I am the king! The Labyrinth should obey me!"
Sarah looked worried as she went to him and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Shh . . . Jareth," she said soothingly.
Jareth hated himself for letting her pull him into her embrace, but he couldn't control his body as he sank against her, resting his head in the cleft between her shoulder and neck.
"We'll figure out a way to get you back to the Underground," Sarah assured him, rubbing his back. "When Toby is gone, we'll find a way. I can contact my friends . . ."
Jareth pressed his lips against her neck, tasted the clean skin and inhaled the soft scent of soap. That kiss led to more, and he kissed his way down her bare shoulder, to the towel that was wrapped tightly around her body.
"Stop," Sarah said softly.
Jareth was fueled by the word and pressed her backwards until they reached the bed. His hands began an exploration of her body that was slowly becoming more familiar. "Sarah," he whispered, jerking his hips into her. Something about her was enticing, riveting. He couldn't tear himself away.
Sarah had been willing at first, but suddenly her fists pounded into him, and she pushed him off to lie beside her. "We can't do this right now, Jareth. My brother is in the next room."
Jareth cocked his head curiously. "But you said 'no'."
"I thought . . . you talked in opposites," Jareth said. He sat up suddenly and looked at her strangely. "When you said no the other night, you meant yes."
"What are you talking about?"
"You said 'I dislike you', but you clearly meant you liked me," Jareth accused further, feeling outraged that she was playing dumb. "You said one thing, but you meant another."
"I . . ." Sarah trailed off, looking unable to come up with anything to reply.
Jareth groaned and fell back onto the pillows. "Please promise from here on out you will stop being confusing and just tell me exactly what you mean at every moment."
Sarah did the strangest thing - she started laughing. Jareth turned to glare, but as he leaned over her to give her his dirtiest look, she reached up with her head and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Jareth froze above her, studying her face intently.
"What?" Sarah whispered, concerned. "I'm sorry. Did I-?"
"Sarah," Jareth whispered, her name on his lips sounding better than it ever had before. He leaned down and kissed her just as she'd kissed him, only pressing down harder, demanding more. Sarah's hands wove themselves in his hair, and he moaned straight into her mouth at the feelings.
Sarah slipped her tongue into his mouth, and he clumsily met it with his own, stroking, coaxing, devouring. The feelings were so intense, so different from anything he'd ever felt before, that they elicited the strongest reaction from a woman he could ever remember having.
* * * * *
Later that evening Sarah, Toby, and Jareth were all seated at an ice cream parlor a few blocks from Sarah's apartment. Sarah noticed that Jareth kept looking at her as if he'd never seen her before, and something inside of her swelled at this. Something had changed drastically when they'd kissed, and while she had a strong suspicion what it was, she couldn't make herself think it. It had been a good thing Toby had knocked on the door, begging to be fed . . . or Sarah and Jareth would definitely have gone farther than they'd managed by that point.
She felt her cheeks grow hot at remembering, so she shoved the thought away and took her first bite of ice cream. "Don't you like ice cream, Jareth?"
"They don't have it where I'm from," Jareth said, looking at it cautiously.
"What - in England?" Toby asked, confused. "I didn't know that."
"I'm not from England," Jareth said scathingly.
Sarah laughed falsely. "What he means is that he's from Scotland. The accents can be mistaken by an untrained ear," Sarah said quickly. "He gets offended if you even mention England. Isn't that right, darling?" She kicked his leg pointedly.
Jareth spared her a glare. "Yes, that's perfectly so. I'm sorry for snapping at you, Toby."
"Try it. You'll like it," Toby said, grinning as he dug into his own bowl of chocolate.
Jareth looked at Sarah. "I can think of other things I'd like to have right now," he said as he took a bite of his ice cream. Sarah felt her nerves stand on end at the seductive tone of his voice, and when he closed his eyes as if in ecstasy, slowly sucking the ice cream off his spoon, she dropped her own bowl onto the table, splattering ice cream all over her.
"Sarah!" Toby cried out. "You got some on my arm!"
Jareth grinned wickedly at her, reached for a napkin, and began to very helpfully clean her up. His hand roaming over her body brought her senses alive again, and she gave him a hooded look that didn't go unnoticed. "Thank you, Jareth," she said stiffly.
"I missed a few spots," he murmured, lowering his head to her neck and sucking softly at a spot. Sarah knew that Toby was right in front of her, but she couldn't help gasping at the rush of blood Jareth's lips were coaxing. He trailed his lips up her neck, lapping at any ice cream melting at the touch of her skin, until he reached her lips and kissed her gently, lips firmly closed. When he pulled away, Sarah made a noise of disapproval and reached for him again. "All finished," he said proudly, giving Toby a wink.
"If you taught me how to do that, I would never be dateless on Friday again," Toby said in awe.
Sarah's cheeks turned their reddest, and she elbowed Jareth. "Quit being an ass and give me some of your ice cream," she scolded him. Jareth gladly lifted the spoon to her lips, watching her suck the spoon with a slightly open jaw.
"It's not something I enjoy teaching other men," Jareth said, shooting Toby a mirth-filled look. "Unless you want me to do that to you?"
Toby put a hand up. "I am very cool, Jareth. Just stick to my sister."
"Stick to her, eh?" Jareth whispered in her ear. "Did you hear that, Sarah? I think we might have your brother's approval."
Sarah pushed him, trying to put some space between them. "Toby, ignore him, please. I'll buy you a puppy as soon as he goes home to make up for all you've had to witness in the past day."
"You're going back home?" Toby asked, looking at Jareth suddenly. "When?"
"Very soon hopefully," Jareth said calmly. "This is delicious. What flavor did I get again, Sarah?"
"Chocolate." Sarah took another bite of his, but she was distracted by his words. Jareth was leaving soon. What was she going to do without him there?
"You can't leave! You're so much cooler than Sarah's last boyfriend."
"Am I?" Jareth pretended to be impressed. "But I have many duties at home that I can't leave unattended."
"Like what? Are you married or something?"
Jareth merely chuckled. "No, I am not married. But I do promise to visit after I've gone back home."
"Do you?" Sarah asked, voice suddenly vulnerable as she looked at him, awaiting an answer.
Jareth looked to her very deliberately. "Yes. Often."
Sarah sighed softly and turned away, the sudden happiness that budded at his words disconcerting her. "Are we done with the ice cream?" she asked, standing up suddenly and clapping her hands together. "What do you guys want to do next?"
Jareth stood up beside her, took her cup, and threw it away with his own dish. She smiled at his attire - so different from everything she'd ever seen the Goblin King wear. It had been lucky that the style for teenage boys was loose and long because Toby's jeans had fit Jareth despite Jareth's long, long legs and Toby's being barely 5'6.
Toby went and threw his bowl away, rolling his eyes at Jareth. "You couldn't have grabbed mine, too?"
Jareth just smirked as he walked back to Sarah and took her hand in his. Sarah sharply turned her head to look at him, but he refused to look back. Something about Jareth had changed in the past few hours, but Sarah couldn't complain about the almost . . . caring man who'd taken his place.
"Can we go see a movie in the theater?" Toby asked eagerly, walking ahead of them on the pavement.
"I don't think so," Sarah said, imagining a dark theater with Jareth sitting beside her. They wouldn't last five minutes before being all over each other. There was some kind of sexually charged energy between them, Sarah couldn't deny.
Toby turned and gave Sarah a look. "Then what can we do?" he demanded.
"We could window shop."
"Don't even think about it."
"All right. Let's go to a museum!"
"Fine, fine. We can go home," Toby finally relented.
Sarah smiled smugly and raised her hand for a taxi.
* * * * *
Jareth didn't sleep that night, but stayed awake with Sarah in his arms, watching her as she dreamt. He'd kissed her . . . a mortal . . . a mortal whom he loathed for years. He couldn't quite grasp his mind around the idea, but at the same time it seemed as natural as breathing.
Sarah opened her eyes and stirred, shifting against him and looking up to check if he was awake. Jareth gave her a smile that she sleepily returned. "This is my fourth day here," Jareth mused, looking around. Normally he would have been screaming and demanding a way out, but he was content to just lie here with Sarah for the rest of their lives. She wasn't as beautiful as some women he'd slept with, and there were even a few men in Jareth's black book who could beat her in a beauty contest. But she was captivating. In this small, miniscule human there was more life and vigor than could be gathered by all of the people Jareth knew.
"I'm sorry," Sarah said remorsefully as she shifted in his arms to lean against the headboard next to him, his arm still wrapped around her shoulders possessively. "I should be trying to help you-"
"There is nothing you can do. The Labyrinth is playing a trick, but soon it will remember that it cannot survive without me," Jareth said. He just hoped the Labyrinth would realize this before it was too late.
"It must be horrible to be trapped in a world not your own," Sarah said, lifting a hand to his cheek tenderly. She smirked slightly. "Even I only had to spend thirteen hours in the Underground."
"I must admit that if it weren't for certain pleasurable assets the Aboveground holds, I would be out of my mind trying to get back." Jareth gave her a pointed look over and leaned down to kiss her. He would have scoffed at any who kissed so freely. Kisses were to be treasured and remembered, not to be given out chastely. But Sarah was changing him in more than one way.
Sarah's hand went to his neck, and he responded by covering her body with his own. Waking up like this was something he could get very, very used to.
And that particular thought was disturbing.
Jareth jerked away from her and gazed down to study her face.
"What?" Sarah shifted uncomfortably. "Is something wrong?"
He shook his head, loosening all the crazy ideas that had been settling, and leaned down to kiss her again. This was about pleasure and nothing more. He would do well to remember that.
With the comfort of a familiar lover he entered her and set about the rhythm they'd found between them in the past few days. Kissing her again, he knew that he couldn't last long. For some reason the barest brushing of their lips was more erotic than any sexual escapade he'd ever had in his life. Sarah seemed to sense this, and she bucked against him with eyes closed, concentrating on her own release. Jareth scrutinized her face, and something inside his chest ached.
Before he had a chance to be afraid of that feeling, she was climaxing beneath him, and the tightening of her muscles around him was more than he could handle. He stiffened above her and emptied his seed inside her womb, that aching in his chest overbearing everything else and entwining itself with his orgasm.
"We should have done that a long time ago," Sarah whispered between pants, her voice directly in his ear as he had his face nuzzled into the pillow by her shoulder.
"Done what, luv?" Jareth murmured, twisting his neck so that he could lick at the sweat that had gathered on her chest.
"Kissed," Sarah sighed. "I never knew how erotic a kiss could be."
Jareth stiffened. He had had some kind of dim hope that she wouldn't have put it together that he hadn't kissed her before last night.
Sarah ran a hand along his back as if she sensed his discomfort. "I'll be sad to see you go, Jareth."
"Go? Who knows when that will be?" Jareth asked quickly, trying to distract himself from her admission. "Let's just enjoy the moment."
"It's strange though," Sarah mused. "How quickly you've grown on me, I mean. Even when I was younger and used to . . . fantasize about you . . . I still hated you for what you did to me."
"Do you not hate me any longer?"
"I don't know you."
"Yes, you do." Jareth lifted himself to look down at her. "One can learn many things about one's lover without saying a word."
"I mean I don't know anything about . . . you. The you inside," she said, tapping gently at his chest. "What are you like?"
"Why do you want to know?" Jareth asked warily.
"Because it would make me feel better about this." She gestured between them. "I'm not someone who just . . . sleeps with a random guy, y'know? I've only had three serious boyfriends, and only two of them I went all the way with. It would put my mind at ease if I got to know you."
"My favorite color is black," Jareth said, inserting a teasing glint in his eyes. "I like long walks in the Labyrinth gardens and stargazing."
Sarah laughed and thumped his shoulder. "No, tell me the truth. I might sound stupid . . . but this is important to me."
"You can't just ask to get to know me and expect me to pour out my life story," Jareth said, frowning. He rolled to the side of her, still lying down, and stared at the ceiling. "It would take days for me to tell you anyway."
"I don't want to know everything. I want to know what's important." Sarah leaned on her side, one elbow holding her head up, and looked down at him with her bright, irresistible eyes.
Jareth rubbed his forehead as if he had a headache. Her questions weren't making him uncomfortable, and that was disturbing. He should be angry by now, ignoring her, but instead he was trying to think of something to tell her. "I've been serving the Labyrinth for nearly a century."
Sarah's eyes widened. "You mean . . . you're . . . how old?"
"I am as old as you see me physically. I cannot remember my age, but I guess by human standards I was in my thirties or forties. The Labyrinth's time runs differently than the Aboveground's, as I'm sure you remember. People do not age."
"What are you?"
"I was human once," Jareth said, struggling to remember. "It has been so very long, and I have had much happen to me since then."
"Is that why you have a British accent? You must have been British," she decided.
"Perhaps, but that doesn't matter anymore." Jareth found her words interesting. It had been so long since he'd studied the Aboveground. He had wondered on occasion where his accent came from; not many others in the Underground had the same accent. But it had been quite a while since he'd attended any balls or such that were put on as a form of entertainment. Fifteen years, one might guess, he mused.
"If you are human, how did you get to the Underground?"
"I imagine the same way everyone else did. We were all human once, but the time in the Labyrinth keeps us from aging." Jareth paused to assess her. "Do you think you can handle hearing it?"
"Yes. I'm not the naïve girl who once ran your Labyrinth after all."
"I've noticed." Jareth flickered his gaze down to her breasts that were pressed against his arm quite invitingly. He sighed, deciding now wasn't the time, and looked back up at her. "I believe I wished someone away to the Underground and accepted my dreams."
"Is that . . . what would have happened to me?" Sarah asked softly, eyes bright.
"Yes. When a human accepts my offer, they join the Underground and become one of us."
"Oh. I always thought . . ." She trailed off in thought.
"What? What did you think?" Jareth asked, wanting to know why she looked sad.
"I guess I always thought that you didn't offer dreams to just anyone. I always hoped that I was . . . special," Sarah said, blushing.
Jareth paused, considering her words. Could he tell her that she was special? She had been something more to him back then than anyone else. Could he tell her that he had been the one to lure her to his kingdom, that he had wished, hoped, and dreamed that she would accept the crystal, that she would join the Underground with her life and sweetness that he had long been fascinated with. "Perhaps I ask everyone, but sometimes I mean it more than others," he said cryptically.
"Oh," Sarah said, clearly not understanding. She looked ready to question him more, but someone knocked on the door. "Toby?" she called out, pulling the sheet up around her body as if he could see her.
"Sarah, it's almost ten, and I'm hungry. Can I make a Hot Pocket or something?" Toby asked through the door.
"Um . . . wait just a minute! I'll make us some brunch, okay?"
"Whatever. I already took a shower, so it's free reign."
Sarah turned to Jareth again and laid her cheek over his heartbeat. "I feel like if I leave, I'll never come back."
"What do you mean?" Jareth looked down at her tenderly.
"You're going to go back today," Sarah whispered, her voice so quiet that it was almost inaudible.
"How do you know?"
"Because I can sense it," she said simply.
"Do you . . . not wish me to leave?"
"I-I don't know."
Jareth felt his heart pick up speed, and he knew she could feel it. "You could come with me, Sarah," he said seductively. "I cannot return to your world, but you could come to mine. You could become one of us. You would live with me in the castle - you would have magic. It would be . . . you would be happy."
"Can you be certain of that?"
Jareth froze and remembered the day before, how loving she and Toby were, how she looked when she hugged her stepmother good-bye. "I suppose I can't," he admitted reluctantly.
Sarah kissed the center of his chest and pushed herself up and out of the bed. "You can take a shower now." She threw him a look over her shoulder. "Do you think you can handle the faucets without my help this time?"
Jareth smiled at the memory. "It will be hard, and I will miss your instruction." He puffed his chest. "But I believe I can brave it alone."
* * * * *
Sarah and Toby went out shopping that afternoon to buy Jareth a socially acceptable outfit because the only one he had (besides Toby's jeans and her sleep shirt) consisted of the tight breeches and poet's shirt. She bought him a pair of black slacks and a turtleneck, wanting him to look nice when he went to her parent's house later that day.
Once home again Jareth had dressed in his new clothes, and Sarah resisted the temptation to push him into her bedroom and keep him all to herself forever. Toby had gathered his stuff together, and they all piled in Sarah's car to visit her parent's house.
It was a strange feeling to be bringing a guy over; she hadn't had anyone over for dinner in years, and it was a bit ridiculous considering she'd only been together with Jareth for a handful of days.
They pulled up in the driveway of her childhood home, and Sarah sat for a second just staring at it. This was where she'd first met Jareth, where she'd spent her days and nights dreaming of him and his land. Taking Jareth here seemed to whisper to the old magic of her teenaged dreams, breathing them to life and stirring them up in the air to surround her.
Toby opened his door and started up to the house, breaking Sarah of her reverie. She turned to Jareth and gave him a half smile. "I'm sorry for taking you here . . . but Toby insisted, and I didn't want to leave you alone."
"I will enjoy meeting the rest of your family. Toby is quite a charming young man," Jareth said, watching the boy walk across the lawn. "I know you may not believe this, but I had a soft spot for him when he came to my Labyrinth. I was going to name him Jareth, after me."
Sarah couldn't help it - she burst out laughing at the thought of Toby being called Jareth. "You are vain and conceited and-"
Jareth growled playfully at her. "Do you want to continue that thought, luv? I could make this experience living hell for you."
"Anything but that. At least you have clothes on this time," Sarah muttered as she took the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car.
"You tempt me too often," Jareth said to her as they walked up to the door together. "I could have made yesterday morning so much worse for you."
"What would you have done? Accidentally dropped the sheet?"
"Perhaps. That paired with seducing your stepmother would have been a show, don't you agree?" Jareth lilted his voice in amusement, and she moved to shove him playfully. He caught her hand, entwined his fingers with hers, and squeezed slightly as they reached the porch.
Toby had left the door open, and Sarah felt comfortable enough to walk right in and shut the door behind her. "Hello? I'm here!"
Frank appeared out of the living room with a huge smile that dissipated when he saw the man standing beside Sarah. "You didn't tell me you were bringing a guest."
Sarah blushed, feeling like a fumbling teenager on her first date with the way her father was sizing up Jareth. "This is Jareth, Dad. Jareth, this is my father."
Jareth coolly reached out a hand and shook her father's. "It is nice to finally meet you. Sarah often praises you."
That seemed to do the trick, and Frank's eyes softened. "You can call me Frank. Jareth is such an odd name. You're British?"
Sarah rolled her eyes. If her father asked too many questions, Jareth might not be able to answer them. "He went to boarding schools in England when he was younger. Where's Karen?"
"In the kitchen. Why don't you go say hello. Jareth, do you smoke cigars?"
"It doesn't matter because you shouldn't be," Sarah said, frowning at her father. "Jareth, tell him no."
Jareth chuckled as he kissed her cheek. "Anything for you, luv."
"Already wrapped around her finger, eh?" Frank said conversationally as he clapped Jareth's back, leading him into the living room.
Sarah sighed, thankful that her father was being pleasant, and went into the kitchen. "Is there anything I can help with, Karen?"
Karen turned around from the oven and smiled warmly. "I think everything is under control. I roasted a chicken, if that's all right. Lemon and herb, your favorite."
"Thank you," Sarah said sincerely and went to hug her stepmother. The simple action left her with a feeling of love and contentment. "I brought Jareth over."
"I heard you all talking." Karen smiled slyly and began to wash her hands. "I didn't tell Frank exactly how I met him myself, so you won't have to worry about him pulling an overprotective one on you."
"Thank god," Sarah muttered, shuddering as she imagined what Frank would say if he knew Jareth was sleeping with his little girl. "I'm very sorry for the way you met him. Jareth was mad at me for a comment I'd made, so he decided to pay me back."
Karen laughed delightedly. "He sounds like a heart throb. Where did you pick him up at?"
"My dreams," Sarah said, sighing when she heard the loud sound of Jareth's laugh from the other room.
"You've got it bad, don't you?" Karen started went to the stove and checked the temperature of the oven.
Sarah wasn't so much surprised at the question but at the fact that she'd almost blurted out an agreement. She panicked about what she could say in reply, but Karen saved her by motioning for her to follow into the living room.
Jareth and Frank were sitting on the couch watching Toby demonstrate how to use a Playstation 2. Jareth was particularly fascinated by it, and Sarah smiled at the cleverly hidden eagerness in his eyes. "Has my father resorted to Chinese water torture yet?"
Jareth looked up at the sound of her voice, and his eyes warmed briefly before closing down to the indifference he'd been hiding his interest in the game. "I do not know what that is, but if it has to do with torture, I don't think so. Your father has been very polite to me."
"Thank you, Daddy," Sarah whispered to him as she sat down between him and Jareth. Jareth quickly snaked his arm around her shoulders and pulled her tight. She settled onto him like a warm pillow and watched Toby play some kind of RPG game.
Karen sat down on the chair beside the couch and sighed loudly. "My feet ache, and I've barely even started on dinner. The side dishes are ready to be cooked, but I have yet to put them in the oven."
"When will it be done?" Toby asked in the bland way someone engrossed in a video game uses.
"If you don't turn that damned thing off right now, you will be eating scraps with Merlin," Karen said testily.
Toby quickly shut the game and TV off. He turned around, still sitting on the floor, to face the adults. "Did you know Jareth had never had ice cream before yesterday?"
"Really?" Frank asked. "Don't they have ice cream in England?"
"Jareth isn't one-"
"You know, Sarah, I'm perfectly capable of recognizing questions directed at myself, and often times I can also manage to fuddle through my mind and come up with a reply," Jareth said, amused.
Sarah blushed as she turned to look up at him. "Sorry," she murmured in his ear. "I'm just nervous that you might say something to . . ."
"I know." He squeezed her shoulders lightly and turned back to her parents. "I've lived a sheltered life. Practically in another world, one might say."
"Boarding schools can do that to a child," Karen agreed gravely. "Where did you go to college?"
"I didn't," Jareth said simply.
"He was, um, tired of school after boarding schools," Sarah said quickly, knowing that his not going to college might not sit well with Frank.
"No, I understand. What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a k-"
"He's a Kennedy-historian," Sarah said, saying the first thing that came to mind. Everyone stared at her blankly. "Um, he's a historian who specializes in the Kennedy family."
"Is that true?" Frank asked Jareth suspiciously.
Jareth rolled his eyes. "Sarah is just being funny. I know no more about this Kennedy family than I do about history. I'm an actor who specializes in fantasy."
"That's what I meant," Sarah mumbled, fighting her embarrassment and relief that Jareth had gotten himself out of that one.
"That must be how you met. Sarah has always loved fantasy, haven't you?" Karen asked, smiling at Sarah. "She used to sit in her room and read the same book over and over again. What was it called again?"
"The Labyrinth," Sarah said, her cheeks definitely heating up. "And shut up."
"Did you know Jareth wrote that book?" Toby suddenly put in.
"What on earth are you talking about?" Sarah asked.
"Surely you told Toby about the book," Jareth said smoothly. "Do you not remember? I wrote it for you years ago."
"You . . . wrote it for me?" Sarah looked at him blankly.
"I did," Jareth said, meeting her eyes sincerely. "I gave it to you, don't you remember?"
Sarah struggled to remember how she'd come into possession of the book. It had . . . just always been there. "I-I think I remember now," she said, more for her parents benefit.
"You know Sarah from back in high school then?" Frank asked.
"I know Sarah from quite a ways back, but we only recently reunited," Jareth said. "She may not have talked about me very much because we had a disagreement of sorts when she was about fifteen."
"It does seem strange not to remember you," Frank admitted. "Did you go to school with her?"
"Boarding schools, remember, Dad?" Sarah asked, trying to keep their story true. She winced, realizing they should have planned this type of thing out beforehand. "Jareth was visiting New York and his father at the time. We met at the park."
"And you never thought to mention him?"
"I did. You must have forgotten." Sarah quickly fabricated her story further, trying to draw them away from when she met Jareth before they became too suspicious. "A few months ago I saw Jareth in a play, and I recognized him immediately. We had dinner, and I've been seeing him whenever he's in New York."
"Why haven't you mentioned you had a boyfriend?" Karen asked, eyes lighting up. "You're always so secretive, Sarah."
Sarah couldn't think of a proper reply, but it was okay because Toby started narrating one of the movies they'd watched yesterday, and the conversation lulled to a comfortable level of talking about anything that struck the occupants of the room.
A half hour later Karen left to go put the rest of the food in the oven, and Sarah stood up, tugging on Jareth's arm. "I want to take Jareth up to my room, Dad. We'll be done for dinner, okay?"
Frank looked ready to protest, but he must have remembered that Sarah was a thirty-year-old woman and mature enough to be alone in her bedroom with a man. He nodded quickly. "I put all of the boxes with your stuff in them on your bed."
"Thank you. We can go through those," Sarah said as she led Jareth out of the living room and upstairs.
The room didn't seem to have changed that much from her childhood, but all the touches that had given the room life were gone, forgotten in the boxes on her bed and in the dark corners of her apartment. The walls were now bare, the book shelf was picked over, and her vanity was empty. It was bittersweet to look around at the room that had nurtured her dreams so long ago.
"This isn't the way I remember it," Jareth murmured as he went to one of the boxes and opened it. With a small smile he picked up a stuffed animal and held it up. "Familiar?"
Sarah dreamily picked it up and inspected it with loving fingers. "So much of this stuff reminds me of the Labyrinth. That's why I didn't take it with me, y'know. I didn't want to remember."
"Was your experience really that atrocious?" Jareth began digging deeper in the box, pulling out anything that interested him.
"I fell victim to reality and convinced myself it had been a dream," Sarah whispered, heart clenching tightly in remorse. "I knew always in the back of my mind that I wasn't crazy, but so many people were telling me to just let go . . ."
Jareth stopped what he was doing and studied her carefully. "You lost your life."
Sarah hesitated a moment before saying, "And you gave it back to me." She turned away from him, embarrassed by the emotions running across her face, and went to the window, leaning against the sill and looking out across the backyard. "I don't know what I hoped for the other night when I wished, but perhaps I got what I needed. Something connects us to each other."
"I know." She sensed him following her footsteps, and then she felt his hands on either of her arms. "Believe me, I know."
"This is crazy." Sarah sighed and leaned back. "I hardly know you at all, but . . ."
"Shh," he whispered against her neck before biting her earlobe tenderly.
Sarah knew that she should continue to tell him that the idea of feelings he'd planted in her as a child had sprouted through dreams that really were dreams. She should tell him that now she felt them in full blast, and she honestly didn't want him to return to the Labyrinth.
"I honestly like humans," Jareth murmured, languidly fluttering his lips to any spare inch of skin he could reach. "They are fascinating creatures, though they are very naïve."
"Why don't you stay Aboveground?"
"Because I am a King, and I have duties. I need to go back as it is . . . who knows what those idiot goblins have gotten themselves into," he said, disgusted.
Sarah turned around in his arms and fiercely wrapped her arms around him, plastering herself against him. Vaguely she felt embarrassed that she was acting like this, but then she felt Jareth tighten his arms and pull her even tighter than she already was. They'd shared many embraces in the past few days, but none held this level of comfort and pain, of emotions budding that were raw for these two particular people. Sarah sobbed dryly and buried her head in his shoulder as he buried his in hers. It was a moment of weakness by any accounts, but Sarah felt almost as if it was a moment of strength.
They must have stayed like that for a long time, but Sarah had no recollection of time. All she knew was that they were interrupted by a knock and the door opening. "Mom sent me to tell you that dinner's ready," Toby said solemnly, pretending as if he hadn't just walked in on such an emotionally raw moment.
Sarah turned and nodded briefly at Toby, dismissing him. Jareth still held her, and he looked down at her with a different emotion than she could remember him expressing before. "I . . ."
"Shh." She placed a finger over his lips, slipping out of his arms, and left the room.
* * * * *
Jareth enjoyed getting to know Sarah's family. Though he had first been amused by Frank's attempts at intimidation, he grew to actually almost-like the man. At least he respected him for looking out for Sarah; that meant she would be okay when he left her here. Though he had expected to dislike Karen from the way Sarah used to talk about her, it turned out that she was quite a charmer. And Toby . . . well, Toby would certainly be worthy of the name Jareth, if all that had worked out.
They stayed until dark, eating a dinner worthy of a king, then sitting around and playing Monopoly - a game that was up there with TV on things Jareth liked about the mortal realm.
When darkness fell behind the windows, Sarah seemed to realize just how much time they'd spent with her parents. Jareth went to get the box of things she'd decided to keep, and when he came down she was hugging her father as if she'd never see him again. For some reason that made him stop in his tracks and look at her.
Things had changed inside him; they had constantly been changing since he'd watched her tear him down with words fifteen years before. It was only recently that they had asserted themselves into his conscious mind.
Jareth said good-bye much more briefly than Sarah, and they headed to the car silently, drove home silently. There was a tension in the air, and this time it was more than Jareth not wanting to admit it. He just plain didn't know what caused it.
He sighed comfortably once back at her home. It seemed like a safe haven after meeting her family today. Despite the many people he was forced to see everyday as a king, he still enjoyed the quiet, private moments best. It would come to no surprise to some that he wasn't exactly a people person. (Unless he wanted to be.)
"You'll leave tonight, won't you?" Sarah asked quite awhile after they'd gotten home. They had both been sitting in the living room alone in their thoughts.
"The magic is strong," Jareth admitted. It had surprised him when she'd commented earlier about him leaving - it implied that she could sense the magic, and that was more than any normal mortal he knew. "The Labyrinth is realizing it can't thrive without me there."
"Already missed after only a weekend," she teased softly, all the life out of her voice. "Before you go back . . . I want you to know that . . . I've come to care for you. I won't be happy to see you leave."
Jareth raised his eyebrows at the calm way she spoke. Somehow he'd expected this type of confrontation with Sarah to be fast and loud. Things between them sometimes seemed easier if settled that way.
As royalty, as a self-sufficient man who always got what he wanted, as a man who had once been beaten by this girl who held a fearful amount of his heart, it was hard for him to admit anything to himself, let alone outside. But something probed him to be honest. Something told him this one chance would mean more to him than any he had or ever would have again.
"I believe you have done in the impossible, Sarah," he said boldly. "You stole my heart when you were fifteen, but I managed to get most of it back. Now you spend four days in my company, and already you've taken it again." He locked gazes with her. "But this time I don't want it back. I don't know why, and I personally don't want to analyze this. But I have always felt that fate might have had a little bit of a hand in our meeting. I love you, Sarah." He winced at the words, recoiling slightly at the weakness. Then he was set free, and the feeling that encompassed him was her love.
"Oh," Sarah said softly, digging her hands between her thighs nervously. The magic around him cackled with his words, and it burned more intensely with each passing moment. "Ridiculous as it is, I've fallen in love with you, too."
The magic flashed then, and Jareth wondered why he hadn't been more careful when it came alive. In a blink they were in his private bedchambers. Jareth immediately reached for her, touching her arm. "You weren't supposed to come, too."
"Didn't you hear?" she asked softly, stepping closer.
"I wished myself over to the Goblin King when I knew what was happening," she admitted, tilting her head up to receive a kiss.
Jareth's hand clenched tightly on her arm, and he shoved her away. "Do you know-?"
"Shh . . ." Sarah put her arms around his waist soothingly from behind. "Leave that for another day. We can argue tomorrow, but tonight I want to celebrate."
"Do you know what you've done?" he asked levelly. "Do you understand what your life now entails?"
"You have duties as a king, I know. And my mortal life was drab and lifeless, spare a few phone calls from my family. It was either a lifetime with them, or eternity with you."
Jareth turned and kissed her hard, bruising, claiming her even though he knew she was already his.
"Do you think I made the right decision?" she asked contemplatively as he held her close.
"The universe doesn't matter - only we do," he replied smoothly. "And I think we both agree that eternity is better than a lifetime."