Title: Winning's Never Easy
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Summary: No one ever said he wouldn't win her eventually.
Winning's Never Easy
It was supposed to be easy. Hell, it wasn't supposed to take any effort at all. There wasn't a woman in his kingdom that didn't swoon as soon as look at him. Leave it to Sarah— bloody minded, beautiful Sarah— to turn him down.
But if anything, it heightened the challenge. And she had always been a challenge. Pleasing her was like flying through fire. Take the child. Give it back. Open the labyrinth. Take her home. Keep her happy. Send her dreams and tiny spells like chocolates wrapped in pretty paper.
It took a lot, but it was worth it, wasn't it? She'd never turned away from him.
Oh, that's not to say she thought overmuch about it. No, she was quite firm in the belief that she hated him. He was her villain, after all. Anything for Sarah.
He was handsome, yes. She thought she'd made him so. What's to fight for, after all, if the man you're fighting against looks as though he contracted the plague some time within the last week?
God, he loved her.
She was stubborn, spit-fire, absolutely perfect.
The thought that he could leave her in that gray little world was insane. He just had to wait. Humans, you see, have an odd tendency to take after wine, and so, are easily swayed by time.
So he waited.
At sixteen, the labyrinth was no longer filled with anger and fear for Sarah, but rather a place of fantasy once again. It, if not its king, was beautiful to her.
He watched her dreams carefully, changing things to better suit her. The bog was suddenly more foreboding, with a little patch of sunlight just above Sir Didymus' house and bridge. The stones were clean, and perfectly safe, the forest beyond painted with odd colors.
No doubt, he'd managed to influence that with a well-placed bit of fruit. Odd. But then he wouldn't love Sarah quite so much if she weren't a little odd herself.
At seventeen, he was starting to lose his tarnish. While he still wasn't the dashing, exotic king, he wasn't completely evil either. Dangerous in a dark and impish sort of way she found attractive, if not all together endearing.
His castle changed a bit. It was larger, more lavishly furnished. And suddenly he had elfin servants and a treaty with their king.
At eighteen, she decided she didn't want the traditional villain of her childhood. He cut his hair and grew it out even, tying it behind his neck. But his hair had never been exactly tame and so it was often falling out to curl and scratch with irratating persistance at his chin.
Also, for whatever reason, his collection of boots changed entirely.
The castle sank down on itself, back to its original size. Now the windows were decidedly larger, the entire structure bright and welcoming.
He was, apparently, a villain of good taste and misleading appearances.
At nineteen, Sarah was restless, acting in a litany of different theaters, different shows. And Jareth couldn't stand his hair anymore. Not even for Sarah. He hacked it off as close as he could, but it was just as wild as ever, sticking up at all angles whatever he did.
Sarah liked it, apparently, because she didn't try to change it. For once, she seemed content. For a while anyway. Until she fell in with that stupid Irish boy and Jareth woke up with red highlights in his hair. That was going a little too far. He would not be modeled after a potential lover.
It didn't take much. A horrible storm, goblins rampaging through the poor lad's flat, and a single, simple note.
Stay away from Sarah or I will personally see to your imminent demise. Goblins are not an idle threat.
He was a smart boy. Jareth gave him that much. But he was rather hoping Sarah bloody well made up her mind. Because if he had to change his wardrobe one more time…
Never mind that this latest change was rather comfortable. Even if he did look more like a rock star than a proper king.
Not that it mattered overmuch. As long as it suited Sarah…
At twenty, Sarah was more the child than she'd ever been, playing in all sorts of brilliant, theatrical comedies. But more than that, she got nostalgic.
His hair would never be same.
It looked absolutely nothing like it ever had, and more and more like an insane two year old had taken a rusty meat cleaver to it.
I love Sarah.
It became his mantra.
At twenty-one, Sarah lay flat on her back in the park, staring up at the sky. She knew exactly what she was doing and reveled in it, changing Jareth back and forth in her mind's eye. He'd have to show up eventually, to complain if nothing else.
Not that he needed to know that.
She wondered if he'd look good bald.
He refused. Point blank refused to shave his head. There was nothing Underground or Above that could possibly force him to take a razor to his head. She could change his hair if she liked, sure. Hell, re-outfit his wardrobe every few days if she wanted. He could deal with that.
But there was absolutely no way in hell he was going bald.
When Sarah turned off the shower, she could hear him in her room, padding softly from one end to the other, fiddling with her things as he waited for her to emerge.
Smiling to herself, she dressed and toweled her hair dry.
"I was wondering when you'd finally take it upon yourself to grace me with your presence." She said, getting in the first word as she exited in a cloud of steam. "Took you long enough."
"Bald, Sarah?" He snapped. "Even for you, that's a little much."
"Got you here, didn't it?"
That stopped his rant dead in its tracks.
He frowned. "If you needed me, you had only to call."
She shrugged and rifled through her drawers for a clean, preferably matching pair of socks.
"Where's the fun in that?" Emerging victorious, Sarah turned, smiling. "I knew you wouldn't do it, you know."
Jareth shook his head, bemused.
"Wicked little imp."
She grinned and sat down next to him on the edge of the bed.
"I've missed you."
Jareth smiled and leaned into her.
"Then come home with me."
"You know better."
"He saw me last week."
I am not jealous.
His new mantra.
"That big orange beast?"
Folding his arms, Jareth glowered at the wall.
He wasn't pouting.
"I miss you."
"In that case I'll have to come. Two days."
He stood up, never doubting for a minute he'd win her over.
"Weekend again, is it?"
"Lost track of time again, have you?" She mocked, linking her arm in his.
Together they walked out into the city crowds, chatting as though they'd been joined at the hip for years.
And five blocks away, when they finally disappeared, the only one to notice was a little girl who, wanting to follow them, had the sense enough to wish her little brown dog away not long after.
Jareth gave the dog back.
But only because Sarah made him.