I bought the Labyrinth Soundtrack last week. Ahh, I don't know why it took me this long to get it. You know, aside from the fact it was hard to find. Don't squeal, Daylo. . . But look! I updated! I bet you all thought I was dead, huh? Well, that's where you'd be wrong!

An Offer Given Twice

Chapter Five: Goblin Talk

Souay loved to hide in the sun. Not a single Troll took notice of her presence circling above their heads, or the occasional. . . donation she left atop a random Troll's shoulder. Mindless brutes, she thought, watching as they sharpened their weapons against the solid skin of a sleeping Rock Golem. The owl made one grand, vigilant sweep, counting their numbers in her mind. It wasn't as serious as Souay originally figured, but just large enough to cause alarm. No general, warlord, or leader was counted among the ranks. If one could dignify the way they clustered a league outside Labyrinth's eastern border "ranks". The uproar her master caused in Under was still too fresh for real opposition. Whoever instigated this wouldn't dare be present without a large, political following.

Still, the snow owl wondered if it would be wise to completely obliterate this little gathering. It was obvious they were testing his borders, and to kill off these rogue Trolls would surely ignite a tidal wave of retribution among the rest of their race. The instigator of this gathering must have known that. She angled her wings to catch a coming draft and smoothly glided away. The familiar kept a knowing eye on the empty space between Labyrinth and the Trolls, waiting for her master. Surely, the Goblin King would insist on meeting this opposition alone and sadistic. Despite his recent, cheerful disposition from The Court visit, he's been repressing a lot of violent energy since. . . since then.

He did not disappoint. Jareth materialized where her eyes predicted and Souay went to him. She could see his unsatisfied expression but welcomed her with an extended forearm she was pleased to take. "How many?" he murmured.

Too few. Souay hesitated, but did not refrain from being the bearer of bad news. Some thousand and the occasional Rock Golem sleeping off the journey.

Jareth grumbled darkly; clearly annunciating an 'I deserve better' tone, "I feel snubbed." He turned thoughtful, "The one time I go out of my way to antagonize my peers, and this is all I get for my trouble?"

He was baiting her; to lighten the mood of his disappointment. 'The one time', indeed. Souay shifted her feet closer to his elbow, lightly scratching the muscle underneath his skin. She adopted a comforting tone, How strenuous it is, being so rude and vulgar.

The trickster's head jerked to his familiar, completely ignoring the army banding together. "You think I am vulgar?"

He didn't question the rudeness; some aspects of his personality were too obvious to lie about. No one would believe it.

I would never dare to insinuate such blasphemy; I think you're quite diligent.

"With my vulgarity."

Now you're just putting words in my mouth, she rebutted with offense. The snow owl straightened, resettling her wings to announce that she was done with the banter. Souay felt the need to remind him, even though he already knew this, but. . . My loyalty to you is irrefutable Jareth. They had always been on first-name basis, ever since their bonding. Souay preferred to honor him by title in public, though her master reminded her it was unnecessary. He would never care, but she insisted. Souay owed her life to Jareth: he had saved her from a life of endless, bitter snow. He saved her from becoming a tool of politics.

"Your loyalty is not in question, Feather Lady, it's your opinion of me I'm worried about." His frown was insistent, the downward tuck demanding immediate praise. But his eyes were grateful and affectionate. Though Jareth's heart belonged to another, he would always be her master. Her savior. Her king. Her best friend.

Souay hooted in laughter, her honest, dark eyes absorbed every expression. Keep worrying.

"Humph!"

- - - - - - DAYLO GOT A 'B' IN DIVISION - - - - - -

'This is bad,' the inner voice said. The one that made obvious statements repeatedly in Brendon's brain. 'I should do something.'

Yes. Thank me for that. "Sarah," the teen shook his friend's shoulders again, pulling her closer, as if it could help. She didn't respond, her lips were moving, but he couldn't make out the words. He's never been one to experience intense panic, but how could he not recognize it? Her skin was pale, rigid stature, wide glazed eyes, and she was completely ignoring him. 'I should do something.'

The freshman stagehands were crowding around in a tight circle, adamant to see being more important than helping. They were noisy and overreacting to the point of being useless. Brendon's grip tightened, as opposed to how useful he was being by under reacting? Fuck it, just do anything! The Drama President removed his palms from her shoulders and decided on the bridal style approach—he secretly wanted to try it at least once. He hoisted her close, relieved it worked, and tried to make his way to the door.

Sarah was shivering against his body, and it alarmed him further. The nurse's office it is. The drama students were still crowding him, getting in his way and talking to him—one had the nerve to ask his opinion whether to use mulberry or ruby red. "Just. . just move, damn it!"

They scattered a little. He didn't feel guilty and shoved the rest of the way to the door. With skilled foot-eye coordination, Brendon opened the door without anyone's help and stalked out. 'Don't drop her,' he was advised when his arms started getting tired. He wasn't scrawny, but bulging muscle could hardly describe his physique. God, what he wouldn't do for a white stead to carry her off with. The nurse's office seemed like a million miles away while his friend was suffering.

The halls were empty; the bell had already rung though he couldn't remember hearing it. The Drama President turned the corner and with more fancy footwork, he passed another two doors. He strode into the office, "Mrs. Revington?"

"You again Brendon? I swear, it's like you have PMS you stop by so often. Just go lay down and I'll consider writing you an excuse later." The voice came from behind a privacy curtain in the back of the room. It was fortunate they were on such friendly terms, he realized. Well, the luck actually lay in Mrs. Revington's little-known weakness for theater; it gave Brendon, as Drama President, a lot of—cough—cramps. That was a lot of missed Chemistry classes.

"Oh, ha ha, Mrs. Revington." Brendon walked over to the nearest bed and set Sarah on the sheets. He eyed her in an up-down motion, just to be sure—though of what, he hadn't a clue, but at least he was certain of it now—before marching over to the school nurse. He didn't bother messing with the cheap drape. "I'm not here for myself," pause, "today. Would you look at her? Now?"

Mrs. Anne Revington's head leaned into view. She dressed like a librarian and smelled like dry books. There was an intelligent slant in her lips and fine-rimmed glasses that slipped on her nose uselessly. She had a strict, leave-your-bullshit-at-the-door demeanor. It was obvious she wore the pants in her marriage, no matter who the husband was. "Is it serious?"

Brendon pulled at his hair after going through the motions of pushing the strands from his face. "I—I don't know."

The school nurse regarded him in a professional silence and in a second, she knew what to do—to his immense relief. "Get a glass of water and my favorite chair."

The Drama President nodded and dutifully walked off. When he returned, the nurse had completed a routine check up: pulse, forehead, pupils, breathing, etcetera. She tucked her little flashlight away, "I think she's just experiencing shock. Perhaps an emotional stimulus; it's best if we let her sleep it off for now."

Brendon's attention fell to the girl. At some point, Sarah did fall asleep when he wasn't looking. He felt the tension ease from his shoulders. Emotional stimulus, as vague as it was, didn't sound fatal. Brendon had already formulated a plan to PMS his classes away so he could be here to scold Sarah for freaking him out. Being the Drama President had a lot of perks (like skipping all the known sciences). He enjoyed the leadership, responsibility, and challenge. But the teen knew he didn't have much stomach for real drama. He's a frank, laugh at the world, do anything once type. And he had already tried real-life drama once, immediately finding it not to his liking. And somehow, this whole event reeked of something he wasn't willing to do twice.

"When I called her name, she wouldn't look at me." Brendon thought that over and corrected himself, "Well, she was looking through me."

Mrs. Revington turned to face him, not taking the glass of water he offered her, "Frightening, isn't it?"

"Yeah." Brendon shook his extended hand a little, "Here."

Her eyebrow arched, "The water is for you, silly boy. And the chair. Come and pull up a seat next to your friend."

After the teen settled himself by Sarah's side, he answered any questions the school nurse asked. This, in turn, calmed his own nerves as he would occasionally sip from the cold tap water. While retelling the morning's events, Mrs. Revington interrupted him only once: she smacked him upside the head. "What the—ow!"

The nurse turned into an irritated adult woman, standing her impressive five foot eight inches (high heels not required) over the student, "You asked if Sarah was raped, had cancer, or recently suffered some form of harm? What sort of idiot are you?"

Brendon's cheeks flushed. "A good one?"

"That's right," the nurse huffed, a witty curl pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Don't worry. I'm sure Sarah didn't have an episode because you inquired about her premature Osteoporosis."

"Premature?" Brendon protested lightheartedly, "Hey, it can happen to people our age, too! It was a reasonable thing to ask."

The school nurse rolled her eyes to the ceiling, "I don't even want to know what those health teachers are cramming into your brain. I've got paperwork to attend to, so just stay there. If you have an urge to do anything, stop yourself, all right?"

"Yeah yeah, I'll be here." Brendon slouched further into the chair to assure the skeptical nurse. There was no way he was going to leave, anyway.

Mrs. Revington turned away, then turned back, deciding upon some last minute advice. "You said she was acting weird today. Don't interrogate her about it; something could have happened over the weekend, so just go slow. You hear?" She didn't wait for his response as it was a rhetorical threat. She pulled the courtesy curtain around them.

Brendon heard, and swallowed down his eagerness. He swiveled the chair near Sarah and waited for her to wake up patiently.

- - - - - - DAYLO'S DIVIDING LINE (as per Anji's request) - - - - - -

. . .Even the perfect fail, Jareth, let it go. . That damnable sentence! Every time he even thought about his failure, rage would coat over his sensibilities. He plunged into the fray with each remembrance of his failure, knocking off heads and blasting Rock Golems into pebbles. He roared in anger until his throat grew soar.

All too soon, the once sand-hard earth had been so thoroughly coated in Troll blood, the ground turned to red mush. There were some places, where the bodies piled high, so drenched in the dark red liquid, a deadly sandpit would form, swallowing anything on its surface. The scene around him reeked massacre. Still, it didn't feel the same and somehow that angered Jareth into another fit. Except there was no one left to vent his frustrations. For the first time, the unadulterated violence he unleashed failed to disgust him. In fact, he hardly felt done. His blue and brown gaze traveled against the gruesome landscape he had painted. . . Something was missing.

"Damn it!" With nothing left to do, Jareth stalked away from the stench of the freshly dead. He kicked a miscellaneous arm from his path. He could simply glitter back home, but there was a little satisfaction to be had as each stomp made impressions upon the soft soil.

It took an hour before he was walking the twisting corners of Labyrinth. Jareth didn't bother to look where he was going; his Insight knew the way. His feet traveled automatically, allowing his thoughts to wander. There were moments, horrifying in their brevity, when the pain of his dead heart could be ignored with combat. His hurt was a reflection of the raw death. And it helped.

The Goblin King sauntered into the throne room an hour later, completely lost in his dark contemplations he had forgotten about the Under Lords he had summoned. He had taken so long to return that they were lounging all over the room, suppressing their yawns. Everywhere, but near his throne, of course. As Jareth walked in, they straightened hastily. Some of the goblins even glared at his back. He took little notice and sat on his throne, consumed with notions of love and recent carnage.

Twelve pairs of eyes waited for him to speak. One of the twelve, coughed in his throat. Jareth looked up, "Hmm?"

"You sent for us, Your Majesty?"

Jareth blinked. "Ah. So I did. I'd like to announce that I'm in love and we're going to war." When they didn't react (he was hoping they'd leave), he added, "That is all I have to say."

"W-war?" squeaked Under Lord Sawn, "but, but, we can't go to war! We're goblins, not Ogres! We're two feet high!"

"Who are we warring with? Perhaps an agreement can be made."

"It's about time, if you ask me—"

"—We're all going to die! Ohhh. . !"

"Shut yer flap, yeh yellow-belly! If our king says war then—"

"—I need new armories if we're going—"

"—Let's surrender!"

"Let's not!"

Bicker bicker bicker. Jareth forgot how much fun it was to have his Under Lords in his castle. Admittedly, goblins going to war with a species other than their own, or sometimes the Dwarves, were absurd. They participate in other wars, but never start one of their own. Goblins are tricksters first and foremost; their abilities are useful, but hardly offensive. Plus, as Sawn said, they get trampled on a lot. An everyday basis.

Goblins had one advantage: no one knew a thing about them. For the most part, no one cared to know. For instance, the enemy doesn't know that goblins don't own land. They build huge cities, spread all across Below, and for each city there is one Lord to govern, who naturally answers to their Goblin King. Including Jareth's Goblin City, there were thirteen total. To keep things simple, all the other cities are named after its Lord. Of those, only four were within public knowledge.

The most treasured secret of the goblin race was the fact that each goblin is technically genderless, therefore sterile. Referring a goblin as "him" is just minimizing the fuss. Everyone assumes that a Goblin King steals human children for fun, or perhaps from a twisted calling of Labyrinth. Rumors are abundant as to why, but in truth, it is the only way to maintain the population. And Jareth doesn't take just human children. He considers anyone. All races are accepted the minute one is wished away. It's just easier to change human children to goblins because they're blank slates in terms of magic. The abandoned are his specialty. Under Lord Gihhe prefers the ones that wish themselves away while Quinn keeps an eye open for the abused. And so on.

What makes that so special is that the universe doesn't recognize goblins as a real race. As such, most forms of magic are not effective against them. Of course, goblins can't perform magic, either, but he figured it to be a fair trade. They had their Insight and Trick abilities; it's enough if used properly.

Jareth waited until the arguments began to circle themselves, after everyone said their peace at least once, he raised his voice, "All right, enough."

They appreciated this about their current sovereign; he let them be true to their natures. He honestly enjoyed being Goblin King. They respected him for it and knew when to shut up if told. "It's too late to negotiate and we're of course too prideful to surrender."

"Aye Your Majesty," they said in unison. Though some were disgruntled, they all knew this was true.

He gave each Under Lord a stern eye, "We are going to war."

"Aye Your Majesty."

"Hopefully, Goblin Cities Sawn, Quinn, and Charl, will be the only ones attacked. Call your goblins to arms and I expect full support from the rest of you. Still, everyone shall prepare their individual defenses; have tunnels and escape routes planned in the event of strategic withdrawal."

"Aye Your Majesty."

"I want constant communication. By the hour."

"Aye Your Majesty." A few of the goblins shifted uncomfortably. Normally, Jareth would leave them to their own devices for the everyday ruling. They'd only meet once every two weeks. Now they needed to conference every hour? Who was he kidding? Goblins are a lot of things and consistency isn't one of them. But they supposed it was worth a try; with the war thing and all.

"Call in all favors and known treaties." Goblins had a lot of peace treaties with a lot of races as no one enjoyed being subjugated to their mischief. Of course, those with a flare for vengeance often used infamous goblin trickery to achieve their goals. Over the decades, that was a lot of favors to call on.

"Aye Your Majesty."

When Jareth was done, he waited as they waited. He remembered to add, "That is all."

"Aye Your Majesty." And they left.

Once the doors shut behind the last goblin, the trickster slumped into his chair. He felt exhausted. Granted, if Jareth gave half a thought about his failure, he'd be wide awake for hours. But as it were, he was too tired to think about that. He didn't even want to risk going to his own chambers, afraid of running into his scribe or something to remind him of anything angry. So he found a comfortable position and dozed. Just a little nap to keep him sane.

While his consciousness proceeded to shut down, his heart drifted to its favorite subject. Jareth pictured her glassy green eyes, reflecting everything they touched. He remembered the sigh of her dark hair, whipping around her shoulders. He loved the way they danced, his hand at the small of her back, rubbing small circles. . .

Souay waited by the windowsill, hidden from view, until she felt it safe to come out. The snow owl graced her way to sit on her master's chest; he stirred, but remained unaware. She could sense the longing of his dream, as he danced with the memory of his beloved. She sighed at her master's silliness. Why did the familiar have to do all the work?

She leaned forward, a spell on her beak, and lightly pecked Jareth's cheek. Souay waited for the spell to gather around him before turning away. You're welcome, she muttered, flying out the window.

- - - - - - UMM, I'M OUT OF IDEAS - - - - - -

Jareth felt the familiar warmth of dream travel. He's only done so a handful of times, but he recognized pull of his essence slipping from his body. It was a pleasant sensation, actually. By the time he got around to wondering where he was going, he was already there.

He stood in the middle of a white nothing. This wasn't new, most dream meetings happen either in the mind or a place in between any sense of location or space. Scholars speculated it was the gap that separated the Above and Below realms. Jareth looked around expectantly for whomever he should be meeting here. 'Hmm, must not be here yet.'

As he waited, he decided to paint a setting on the canvas of their meeting place. He grew a valley of lush grass that tickled his bare feet, randomly popped in a tree or two, and set a pair of giant lounge chairs facing each other. What else? Jareth mixed up a cloudy dusk sky. And the occasional breeze. He didn't think to add anything more, just in case someone unpleasant turned out to be his caller.

He lay across the arms of the chair, and tried to be patient. What was taking so long?

"H-hello?" came a voice from behind.

Every nerve ending in Jareth's dream body snapped to attention. The Goblin King pulled himself upright and turned. Sarah gasped in surprised, "You!"

'That's a nice hello.' Truth be told, he was just as stunned as she. This had to be Souay's doing. He made a mental note to thank her after he woke up. While she was asking all the silly questions—"Where am I?" "What am I doing here?"—his brain was frantically trying to figure out how to salvage this situation to his benefit.

He could start by wiping that dumbstruck look off his face. "Hello Sarah," he spoke softly, "you're looking. . ." his eyes roamed her figure, mouth-watering, delicious, sexy, "lovely this evening."

Since this was her first dream travel, she wore what every first timer wore: practically nothing. Sarah donned a white tank that exposed her ribs and navel and a pair of white shorts that covered enough thigh for a little modesty. Very little modesty. The light of the setting sun was doing wonders to give her a soft, touchable glow. That was a lot of skin for Jareth to want to touch. Now if only she'd let him. But his Sarah wasn't one to be so easily swayed from her love of questions, "What's going on, Goblin King?"

He frowned a little at her formality. But soon perked up, "Why, you're dreaming, Sarah."

She remained suspicious. "I don't believe you."

That hurt more than it should. He didn't want her to be skeptical of him, though she had every right. Jareth knew how to twist this, and gave a small tsk that caused her to stiffen. "Sarah, you're the one that dreamed of me—" not quite true, "—I only exist out of your imagination." Definitely not true.

"This doesn't feel like any dream I've had before," Sarah shifted her weight from foot to foot. Just on the verge of taking that step.

"What else could this be, other than a dream?" Bless the mortal realm for their ignorance in the ways of magic.

She looked around at the landscape he wished he'd done more with, "I suppose, but. . but why would I dream of you?"

Jareth snorted, "Why wouldn't you?"

There was no denying how attractive he was, and they shared a little laugh at his expense. At least while under the pretense of a dream, Sarah seemed willing to admit it. He had broken the ice, but he still needed to tread very carefully. "Why not sit down? You can remain just as suspicious of me in a chair as you will standing up."

Much to Jareth's delight, Sarah gave in and practically collapsed into the chair with a huff. He cocked his head to the side and wished she would think to slump a little more, to give him a better view of her legs. Resting her chin on her hand, she mused aloud, "You know, I thought I saw the real Jareth at school this morning. Maybe that's why."

Her eyes darkened as she remembered the experience. He felt a pang of guilt in his stomach for his rash behavior. Would his temper never learn? She continued, "I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

Jareth tapped the pendant on his chest, "How do you mean?"

"He. . he won't let me go, will he?"

"Never," Jareth replied with absolute certainty. 'I could never let you go.'

Sarah sighed, and rubbed her bare arms as if she were freezing. She drew her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees. Her face fell out of view. She mumbled, but he heard, "I was afraid of that."

"Sarah," he whispered, but she remained unresponsive. He couldn't take it anymore. He had to touch her.

Jareth fell to his knees before her chair, his body hovering over her huddled legs. "Sarah," he said again, his voice adopting a husky tone he knew from experience to be effective against the opposite sex. He reached out and buried his hands in her hair, nearly groaning at the silk in his fingers. "Sarah. . ."

Her head snapped up, she was on the verge of saying something to ruin his chance. On the verge of realizing that his touch felt too real. Hmm, what lush lips. "It's just a dream, my sweet Sarah," he murmured.

He leaned closer, her knees pressed against his chest and his nose brushed hers. He met her forever green eyes, willing her to fall into the dream. She was confused by his actions. He could see the way her eyes clouded, full of uncertainty, but it wasn't enough to make him reconsider. Jareth brought his hands up to the sides of her face, his thumbs rubbing her smooth cheeks. His body was aching to take any piece he could of his delicious woman. He angled her head just a little, eyes falling to her mouth. His lips grazed Sarah's once, twice, and then melded into hers.

Jareth was lost in her softness, it was pure bliss. He moaned and couldn't help but want more. He nipped at her bottom lip in askance, pulling her closer. Before he could turn their kiss into anything more—Gods, did he want more—Sarah came to her senses and pushed him away.

"This isn't a dream!" she accused, horrified.

Jareth fell back hard, trying to crawl through the lust. "Hmm?"

"I want out! Jareth, I want out right now!" Sarah was out of the chair and pacing around in the grass, trying to find the exit.

He was hypnotized by the sway of her walk, the way her bare legs rubbed against each other when she paced. Some basic sense of self reminded him to answer her, but he couldn't remember what she said. "Hmm?"

She soon grew frustrated with him, "Some Goblin King you are. Hmm, hmm," she mimicked.

The mockery snapped him to his reverie, but he took hold of his temper. Or was trying to. "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah," he said coldly, "if you are so desperate to leave then just wake up."

Her sudden hesitance gave him hope, but Sarah didn't notice, her mind rapidly trying to decide whether or not to believe him. It was worth a try, anyway. She closed her eyes and held her breath, 'I want to wake up.'

He bitterly watched her fade away, suddenly not so certain he wanted to thank Souay for her little gift. Jareth sighed, who was he kidding? He disappeared from the dream, ready to plead and bribe Souay to make her do it again.

End of Chapter

Thank you all for reading!

And. . . sorry about the slowness of my. . well, slowness. Umm, love??

Dear. . .

Solea: Seeing as how you've already contributed to my sixty review goal, I don't think I can refuse. What would you like on your nachos?

Anij: Sigh. . . yeah. Jareth, equal sign, perfection. . . I must try not to squeal like a little girl—too late.

They Them Us: Plum merlot just sounded nice. I did a little internet search for wines and stuff and just kinda picked one.

Amunett: Sigh. I know, I felt a little ashamed because I had to do that, too. It's my story even! For shame, author, for shame!! Hugs.

Notwritten: Once again your kind word(s) have lifted my writer's soul to a higher place.

Xaviere Jade: Thinking up Souay is my great pride! You have made me happy. Oh, and, of course, I'm happy you like the concept and stuff. Yes. Thank you.

RagamuffinSundrop: Thank you!

Hellspixie18: Sorry for making you wait, haha. . . ha. . I'm so ashamed!

Cutegenius: Ahhhh! The writer's shame!