A/N – Edited and reposted. Hopefully the ending will be easier to understand this time.

Disclaimer – I don't own the Labyrinth. I'm making no money at all from this. Don't sue.

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Familiar Comfort

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Everything you asked of me, I have done. You cowered before me; I was frightening…

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Sprawled on the hearthrug before the fire, Jareth slept, his extravagant eyes closed, his vivid, cruel face relaxed and strangely peaceful. In this strange, alien world of steel and plastic and technology, her house was one of the few safe havens where he could rest…

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She knew, as soon as she turned the key in the lock, that he was inside. She could feel it – an electric presence, an instinctive thrill. Even now, years after her adolescent infatuation, she still possessed an almost animal sense of his nearness.

Sighing wearily, she moved into the lounge room and sank down on the overstuffed sofa. He slept on, a strange, shining figure, and she watched him, marvelling at his presence here, in the real world. Unable to resist, she knelt down beside him and laid her fingers on his chest, feeling the warm, solid strength of him – flesh and blood and bone, as well as enchantment.

Her head drooping, she closed her eyes and flattened her palm over his heart, seeking the slow, reassuring beat. All around her, the house was silent and still, and soon enough the peace and reassurance of the fire's warmth lulled her to sleep.

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Two hours later, she woke, disoriented, feeling a warm, solid weight at her back, and a rich, exotic scent surrounding her. She sat up, blinking stupidly, and looked around her –

Disturbed by her sudden movement, Jareth stirred behind her. "Sleep, Sarah," he murmured drowsily, his voice low and rough in her ear. "We both need it."

"But…" she frowned, "this isn't my bedroom. How did we…?"

Sighing, Jareth settled himself and closed his eyes again. "Your bed is too uncomfortable."

She scowled at him, but he ignored her, his breathing deepening as he lapsed back into sleep. All around her, silver moonlight poured in through vaulted glass windows, and drapes billowed in the gentle night breeze. It had been the light that had awakened her, she realized, as it crept over the great, luxurious bed –

The Goblin King's bed was in no way uncomfortable.

Somewhat ungraciously, she lay back down, trying not to fit herself into the space naturally created by Jareth's body, and went back to sleep.

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It had been this way for some time.

At first, in the years immediately after her strange experience in the Labyrinth, Sarah had persisted in thinking Jareth a cruel, manipulative villain – she could feel him watching her all the time, feel his mismatched gaze on her back as she moved through her days. Then had come the visitations, the cruel, feline mockery as she tried to deny his existence, to refuse his ability to throw her off balance with a word, or a look.

Eventually, as she grew older and less melodramatic, they developed a strange truce: he ceased to stir and needle her, and she grew to appreciate his sardonic humour and intriguing mind behind the menacing, threatening Goblin King mask. Slowly, she let him move closer and closer, until she grew used to finding him in her apartment – and even to sleeping beside him, enveloped (entirely chastely) in his warmth, his scent, and the subliminal thrill of his magic.

They were just two lonely people, finding companionship with each other – happily, she was no longer an infatuated adolescent in thrall to her hormones.

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Jareth awoke with the sun, savouring Sarah's soft warmth pressed along his side. Unable to resist the temptation, he buried his face in her long, thick hair for a moment, breathing in her scent –

And then moved away before she woke. Sarah had definite rules about such things.

It had taken him years to accustom her to the point where she would accept his presence in her life, and even longer to win his chaste position in her bed. However, he was willing to be patient. For Sarah, he was willing to wait, to play the house cat, sheathing his claws, purring when she scratched him, asking for nothing more than she was willing to give.

Sometimes it infuriated him. But then sometimes she would return late at night, watch him while he slept, and fall asleep by his side…

She began to stir. Quickly, he climbed out of the bed and threw open the windows, reveling in the warm sunlight on his bare chest. With his eyes half-closed against the light, he listened to her breathing change as she woke, heard her small grunts and groans as she dragged herself into wakefulness.

And then he heard her curse, as she realized that he had removed her business suit the night before and dressed her in a silk shift.

"You know, Jareth, you take a lot for granted." Her voice was wry, but he doubted that she saw the true irony of her words.

"Hmmm?" He half-turned his head, smiled as he saw her disgruntled expression, very much at odds with the image she presented, propped up amidst the covers and pillows. "I take very little for granted, Sarah. I can't afford to."

"Then how do you explain this lace?"

He sighed. "Haven't you learned to trust me by now? I won't harass you and I won't touch you, not unless you say the word. That was our agreement, wasn't it?"

"Yes, but…"

He cut her off. "And have I ever given you cause to doubt my sincerity? I am a creature of my word, Sarah; if I make a bargain, I will uphold it." He felt his hands clench into fists, and made a conscious effort to relax them. It would not do for Sarah to think her domesticated companion anything less than perfectly behaved.

Nevertheless, he could feel the tension in his body, the taut muscles of his back undisguised by his normal extravagant clothing, his hands naked without their gloves and the distracting crystals.

"I know," she said, her voice gentler now. "I know that, Jareth. But sometimes it's hard…"

He held his tongue.

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Time ran differently in the Underground. So it was that they sat down to a leisurely breakfast, basking in the warm sunlight and looking out over the great, glorious expanse of the Goblin Kingdom. They spoke of generalities, of her work and his reign, of the great books, music and art of Above and Below.

But then, as always happened, they argued. Sarah's chin rose and Jareth's jaw set, and the peace of the morning was shattered. Harsh words were exchanged, and Sarah rose with great dignity from her seat and stalked off.

Clearly, she expected him to send her back, as he had done so many times before. Sometimes, just sometimes, he wondered what would happen if he refused…

But he had given her his word, and he would play this game by her rules.

He sent her back, and stood there with a bemused, self-mocking smile on her face and watched her disappear.

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