My Immortal Lover
By Danika Lareyna
The Day Laughs in Your Face
"I don't want to go! You can't make me! You said we could stay 'til Sunday!" Robert firmly shut the door to the blue sports utility vehicle, cutting off the sound of Toby's howling protests. Sarah could still see him through the shaded glass, arguing his case and, for some reason, snapping his fingers in their direction. With a mental shrug, she put it down to general childhood weirdness, for her own sanity if nothing else.
She turned back to her father and stepmother, fighting to look disappointed and not as if she wanted to skip gleefully around the camp. "Are you sure you have to go?" she asked, wondering what tragic flaw she had in her nature which compelled her to push her luck so.
Robert's head bobbed on his neck as his eyes darted about the trees. "Yes, yes," he murmured, in the distracted tone he had used since the previous afternoon. "Must go... time to go... Home to the city... nice city..." Karen said nothing, but her grip tightened on the oversized can of mace in her fist.
As the car disappeared down the mountain, Jareth seemed to materialize from the shadows beneath the trees. "Whatever you did to them had better not have screwed them up permanently," she said as he came to stand beside her. He chuckled but said nothing.
She raised her eyes to the sky, another perfectly clear day with the sun shining cheerfully down on them. She hated to ruin such a thing, but the real world had touched her and reminded her that the fantasy had to end some time. With a sigh, she said, "I guess I should be getting back in a couple of days too."
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
She gave Jareth a sad smile over her shoulder. "Sorry, but you know we can't stay up here forever. Anyway, I bet you miss your goblins."
The thunder grew louder and a cold wind swept around Sarah, tugging at her hair.
With a snort, Sarah turned and walked away from him. She spoke as she went, "Fine then. Be that way."
Jareth, arms crossed, glared at the road, the wind rising to a howl around him. He had, it appeared, settled in for a full-scale temper-tantrum (1). His resolve weakened, however, when a pair of slender arms reached out to embrace him from behind. A husky voice spoke in his ear, "Of course, if you stop sulking, we could actually enjoy our last few days up here." Sarah pressed her body tight against his.
Nimble fingers undid the top three buttons of his shirt before Jareth could form an answer. Said fingers then dipped down to run lightly across the Goblin King's chest and, as the sun peeked hesitantly from behind the roiling clouds, Jareth found that he had once again been thwarted by the wily woman. And, once again, he did not seem to mind. Giggling, Sarah led the willing Fae back to their snug tent. Within minutes the day was beautiful and perfect once again.
That is until a blue sports utility vehicle pulled into the campground and a voice called out, "Sarah-Honey! Have you seen our thermos?"
"Are all mortals that annoying, or is it just your family?" he groused. He sat cross-legged atop a sleeping bag in their tent; Sarah was stretched out with her head in his lap. Without seeming to pay attention to what he was doing, Jareth was twisting her dark hair into a multitude of tiny plaits.
As she enjoyed watching his long, nimble fingers braid her hair, Sarah replied cheerfully, "Oh, it's all mortals. I'm surprised you haven't figured that out by now."
He snorted, "As bad as goblins."
"Aren't there any you like?" she asked.
"Well there is one I'm somewhat fond of," he replied, dropping the strands of hair to tap her playfully on the tip of her nose.
She grinned up at him, "I meant goblins, not mortals, Mr. Romantic."
He resumed plaiting her hair and his brows drew down as a look of concentration swept across his elegant features. "Hmm... well I am rather amused by young Squyshee (2)."
Sarah choked on laughter and sat up, turning to face him. "Squyshee?"
He sighed, "Yes, I know. It's a terrible name." She nodded her agreement and he continued, "Especially since he moved into the lower furnace room. Unfortunately, he refused to take my excellent advice and change his name to Cryspee." He shrugged, "Goblins."
Sarah flopped back into his lap, giggling. "We have the weirdest conversations."
Jareth looked honestly surprised, "We do?" She only giggled the harder.
"It could have happened to anyone," he insisted.
Sarah nodded, trying to hide the tears that were forming in her eyes. She obviously failed because he crossed his arms and turned his face from her, a low growl echoing in the back of his throat. "No," she said, and her voice caught as she struggled not to choke on the words, "I understand, Jareth."
"Really," he exclaimed, waving an arm for emphasis, "How was I supposed to know? It seemed innocent enough." Sarah quickly turned away from him, afraid that he would see the color drain from her face. She pressed a hand to her stomach, hoping that she could fight the urge to be sick.
"Sarah," he said, taking her by the shoulders and forcing her to turn and face him. Tears immediately sprang to her eyes once more. "Sarah," he repeated, his voice low and serious, "Even you could not be this cruel. Sarah, my pet, do not do this to me. Do not do it to yourself."
The woman looked at the ground, unable to meet his piercing, mismatched gaze. She worried her lower lip between her teeth, her toe digging at large pebble in the dirt. He frowned and cupped her chin in his hand, once again forcing her eyes to his own. Indecision danced in that gray-green gaze. He had given his word and yet... it was just so painful now.
"Sarah," he said, his voice soft with only a hint of admonishment, "Please." He stepped close to her, pressing his body tightly against her own. He lowered his head so that his hair tickled her ears and his lips barely brushed hers.
"Ok!" she gasped, shoving him roughly away. She turned away from him, scrubbing at her eyes. "Fine Jareth, you win. You can use your magic, but I hope you learned your lesson!"
"Yes Sarah," Jareth replied, like a sullen child. "I shall not attempt to pet anymore of those skunk beasts, should I see them."
She sat in the tent, running a brush through her long, dark hair. Suddenly her hand paused as a strange sound caught her attention. Slowly, she lowered the brush to her lap, tilting her head a bit in an attempt to better catch the noise. It was soft but persistent, almost like tiny helicopters. She might have feared that Jareth was up to his tricks, but he had just recently gone for a swim. He should not be back yet...
Just as Sarah reached to unzip the tent entrance and peek out, another sound came to her. This was slightly easier for her to recognize. "Aiiiiieeeeee!!" Obviously a coyote had gotten into camp and had taken it into its head to howl-
The tent flaps flew open as a nude, dripping Goblin King threw himself in, knocking Sarah backwards onto her sleeping bag. She raised her head to demand an explanation, but Jareth had already twisted around and was zipping up the tent as if his life depended on it. Judging from the swollen, red welts which dotted him, including some very... interesting places, that might have been true.
"What on earth-?" Sarah managed to splutter.
Jareth turned, breathing heavily, and seemed to notice her presence for the first time. He drew himself up, gathering his dignity and pretending as if he was not sitting naked and wet in a tent in the middle of the woods, covered in throbbing welts. "Sarah," he said, "I believe that I am ready to return home."
"Jareth, what happened? What's that sound? What's the matter with you?" Sarah reached over to touch one of the angry bumps on Jareth's skin, but he immediately flinched away. He was having a hard enough time figuring out how to sit without irritating them further, he did not need her making it all the worse.
He cleared his throat and refused to meet her eyes. "It would seem," he said, "That the local insect population has developed a taste for Fae flesh."
Sarah gaped, "Bugs? Bugs did that to you? I thought you had found a little-known den of freshwater electric eels down in the lake or something! My gosh, it sounds like World War Three out there!" Since Jareth had appeared in the tent, the thrumming outside had risen to a fevered pitch.
Jareth twitched, resisting the terrible urge to scratch. "I am almost amazed that I have passed under their radar so long, really. It is a well known fact that the blood of a Fae is like sugar-water to those foul little creatures."
Sarah grinned, "I always said that you were sweet, deep down, but I never meant literally." Jareth rolled his eyes. "So you look like you're about two-thirds eaten already. How are we ever going to get everything packed and into the car?"
Jareth's eyes widened and he glanced quickly at the tent's entrance and then back at her. "Go back out there?" His voice squeaked a little as he spoke and he had to clear his throat before he continued, "I am afraid that it shall be impossible. We will simply have to remain here, in the tent, for the rest of time."
"Well, that's one idea," Sarah said. "But I can see two problems with that. The first being that we're down to a single can of pork and beans and half a bag of stale marshmallows for food-"
"I get the marshmallows," Jareth said, cutting her off. Sarah gave him a look and he quickly silenced.
"And the second problem being that those bugs seem to be trying to get to you by chewing right through the tent." She lifted a finger, indicating an area of the tent-wall which was bulging inward. Close inspection revealed tiny mandibles and stingers trying to punch through the thick material.
Jareth took one look at the tent and, in his most dignified and regal tone, said, "Aiiiiieeeeee!!"
When Sarah was at last able to remove her hands from her ears, she said, "Ok, now that you've gotten that out of your system... I think I've come up with a solution."
He calmly crossed his hands in his lap, realized that he was still nude, and moved his hands to his knees. "Oh?"
She smiled, "If it were to rain really hard, the insects will have to settle down long enough for us to pack up."
Tapping a finger against his lips, Jareth said, "Yes... Yes, that might work."
"So, the only problem is..." a slightly wicked gleam came into Sarah's eyes, "Making it rain..."
"...and so then Juliet plunged Romeo's dagger into her breast so that she could join with her beloved for all time in death." Sarah dabbed at her misty eyes as her story came to an end. She turned to glance hopefully at Jareth and was slightly disappointed with his reaction.
He threw his head back and roared with laughter, going so far as to slap his knee. "Honestly Sarah, I was under the impression that you were attempting to make me sad. Why on earth did you choose that story?"
Sarah glowered at him. "Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest tragic love stories of all time!" she exclaimed.
He blinked, looking utterly perplexed. "You mean it is not a comedy, highlighting the foolish fallibility of mortal youth? What with the sleeping potion, and the feuding families..." He broke off into chuckles again.
Sarah pinched the bridge of her nose. "This is going to be harder than I thought."
"...and so then the little mermaid turned to sea foam, to drift forever on the waves, but she was at least content in the knowledge that her true love was happy." Sarah's voice was hoarse. She was not certain how many tragic stories she had told Jareth so far, but she was afraid that she had nearly expended her repertoire.
He snorted, "Foolish fish-woman. She should simply have used the knife from the sea-witch to slice off the nose of the prince's betrothed. See if he married the woman then!"
Sarah sighed, burying her face in her hands. She would simply have to face it. The Goblin King was not affected by the same things a human would be. Well... he had gotten rather misty-eyed during, "The Little Match-Girl," but in the end had only gotten angry at mortal society which would allow such a thing. It seemed that they were indeed doomed to live out the rest of their lives (3) in the tent.
...and Jareth had already eaten all of the marshmallows.
Suddenly, a sound caught Sarah's attention and she raised her head. "Jareth, do you hear... Jareth, are you trying to sneak the pork and beans too?!" Jareth lowered the spoon and tried to look innocent as he rubbed a condemning smear of sauce from his lips. One sure-fire way to make Jareth cry suddenly occurred to Sarah, which involved a swift kick from her to a very sensitive area on him. She shoved the idea (reluctantly) from her mind, as she said, "Jareth, do you hear what I hear?"
The Goblin King tilted his head, listening, and said, "No, obviously not."
"Exactly!" Sarah exclaimed. "I've been trying to make you cry for so long that it seems that the bugs have all bedded down for the night... or whatever."
"Ah, excellent," Jareth exclaimed. "Then we won't be needing this last can of pork and beans." Sarah once again envisioned herself making it rain, as Jareth snatched his spoon back up and began shoveling the food into his mouth.
Sarah shot a sympathetic glance at Jareth. Or rather, at Jareth's backside. The rest of him hung out Joseph's window. Apparently he became slightly less nauseas with the wind in his face. He said that it was rather like flying. Actually, he said that it was rather like flying through a thunderstorm with a broken wing, but Sarah had chosen to abridge the comment in her mind.
"Jareth, I told you that you didn't have to ride back with me," she said, reaching over to lay a gentle hand on the back of his shirt (4).
He slid back into the car and gave her a slight frown. "I am sorry," he said, "What did you say?"
"I, uh..." Sarah lost her train of thought, trying very hard not to laugh at Jareth's hair. His usual wild hairstyle had been utterly ruined by the trip down the mountain, and in a way that could only have been achieved by the Goblin King. Apparently, he was able to read her gaze, because he quickly turned the rearview mirror to look into it.
"Oh bloody hell," he muttered, "It's all... smooth and straight." He growled as he attempted to fluff it with his fingers.
"I said that you did not have to ride down with me," Sarah said, at last. "You could have just returned home from the camp."
He tilted his chin up regally and replied, "I have accompanied you for the duration of this trip. I shall accompany you to the end." At that moment they hit a particularly steep drop. Jareth clawed at the dashboard a moment before remembering to stick his head out the window- just as Joseph passed a particularly bushy pine tree.
The Goblin King rolled up his window, sitting back and gripping his seat with his eyes closed. Sarah decided that it would not be wise to comment on the red scratches on one side of his face, or the broken branches caught in his straight, shiny hair.
"Sarah?" Jareth asked, attempting to focus his mind on something other than the roiling in his stomach. "What will you do when you return to your home?"
She suppressed a groan. "I guess I'll have to start looking for a job. Ugh! I don't think there is anything on the face of the earth that I hate more than job hunting." She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, giving him a somewhat fatalistic grin. "I don't suppose you know anyone who's hiring, do you?"
Jareth stiffened and opened his eyes, staring at her for a long moment. Sarah felt a tingle of apprehension dance up her spine. "Yes," he said, slowly, "As a matter of fact, I do."
"Oh, I know I'm going to regret asking this," Sarah muttered, half to herself. "Ok, I'll bite. Who?"
His lips twisted into a wide, wicked smirk as Jareth replied, "Me."
(1) - A temper tantrum of the Fae variety, which tend to level houses and get weathermen fired. (How could you fail to predict a tornado?)
(2) - Squyshee is mine, mine I tell you! I actually wrote the first half of this chapter months ago and, as such, had named Squyshee long before any silly little OCs went on their silly little vacation. Twas I who named Wren's goblin. Cower before the genius that is me!
(3) - Actually it would only be the rest of Sarah's life. Jareth would have to be there for the rest of eternity.
(4) - On the surface this was an attempt to be considerate and understanding, but really she was just afraid he would throw up in her car.
Amazingly and astoundingly enough, WhiteRoseWithering did not win last chapter's prize. We all know that she knew the song, but she didn't answer it. So the virtual toaster strudel goes to enchantednight84 (Yay!). Unfortunately she did not, as I asked, let me know what flavor she wants so she gets anchovy-flavored toaster strudel. THAT'LL TEACH YA!
The prize this time around, solely because Solea asked, will be virtual nacho platters. Have at it.
...what do you mean you don't remember the game? Pfft. You are supposed to guess which song by the lovely and talented David Bowie the title of this chapter is from. Lyrics, people, lyrics.