I know, I know—it has been ages since I updated and I apologize profusely. I've been traveling for the past two months (yep, it sucks to be me), and some of that travel was by donkey—an event that was probably far more traumatic for the donkey than it was for me. Let's never speak of it again (shudders)

As always, many many thanks to all those who have reviewed! And what jolly fine reviews they were! (daringdemon81: You read my mind! Hope you enjoy the goblin serenade). My thanks also, as always, to the awe-inspiring Mercuralis and Phuriedae not only for their words of advice, but for beating the evil out of this chapter.

(Btw Collette Longbottom has drawn a rather marvelous pic of Jareth receiving his floral slingshot—she does an exceptional job at capturing his angst (poor bastard). Check it out in all its glory on deviantArt or see the link on my bio page)

Disclaimer: I own none of this, really. It was written merely to amuse Mercuralis. No piñatas were harmed in the making of this chapter, although a karaoke machine was misused and many eardrums were violated. Oddly enough, this chapter is crotch-free, although there are two references to Jareth's leather pants. Very brief references. Hardly enough to warrant reading the chapter, really.

Epilogue: The Gift That Keeps Giving

One Year Later…

Jareth closed his eyes and carefully pinched the bridge of his nose.

It was his birthday.


And just like his birthday the year before…and the year before that…and the year before that (he winced at just how many 'year before thats' there actually were), he found himself in the throne room surrounded by his cretinous subjects, who at this moment were doing their very best to make him feel faintly suicidal. As he watched their disturbing attempts to entertain him, he was suddenly struck by the depressing realization that he would probably be doing the exact same thing on his birthday next year. And the year after that...and the year after that...and the year after that...

"Bloody immortality," he muttered to himself.

A sudden high-pitched wailing sound tore through the air, disturbing his train of thought. Jareth grimaced and looked up at the ceiling. To his extreme dismay, none of the stones directly above his head seemed loose. Apparently, this wasn't the birthday where the ceiling would collapse upon him, thereby rendering him unconscious and putting him out of his misery. He sighed. Typical.

The wailing grew louder and was now joined by a great deal of high-pitched screeching. To Jareth's sensitive ears, the noise was distressingly similar to that made by herds of vigorously-mating yaks. He shuddered and briefly contemplated pounding his head on the flagstone floor. Instead, he decided to go with the less disfiguring option of simply closing his eyes and putting his hands over his ears as regally as possible.

The wailing and screeching grew louder until all the dogs in the kingdom began to howl in response. Jareth distracted himself from the sound by imagining how positively marvelous it would be to rule over a kingdom that was completely goblin-free. He wasn't really fussy about what he'd get to replace the goblins—rabid ferrets, vicious fish, non-housebroken kittens—just as long as they were incapable of speech and did not force him to contemplate performing a lobotomy on himself with a pointed stick.

The wailing and screeching was now joined by the odd bit of yodeling and the entire cacophony of sounds suddenly escalated to the point where Jareth could feel his eardrums start to shred.

"Enough!" he roared, standing up from the throne. "Utter one more sound into that microphone and I will have you all doing synchronized laps of the bog before you can blink."

The three goblins who had been performing a rather stirring karaoke rendition of My Humps stopped singing rather reluctantly. True, they had initially only selected the song because they thought that it was an ode to disfiguring hump-like skin conditions, but they had really gotten into it.

The goblin with the beaky nose pouted. "But your Majesty, we were just getting to the good bit…."

Jareth feigned a look of surprise and placed his hand over his heart. "Really?" He bent down so that he was at eye-level with the three small goblins. "Pray tell, my fine fellows—does this 'good bit' involve the song coming to an abrupt end when you and your tone-deaf brethren are hung by your earlobes over the bog? If so, I would be more than happy to ensure that we get to the 'good bit' as soon as possible," he said pleasantly.

The goblin with the dented helmet looked at the karaoke monitor. "Funny, the magic screen doesn't say anything about the bog. Or earlobes. Odd that."

The goblin with the twitchy eye pursed his lips. "Maybe we're not up to that bit yet. The magic screen says that we're up to the bit where everyone dances all this."

The twitchy-eyed goblin watched the dancers on the karaoke monitor for a moment and then attempted to copy their stripper-esque dance moves. Badly. Very very badly. After observing him for a few minutes, his fellow singers joined in. The crowd looked on in horrified fascination as the goblins attempted a synchronized bump-and-grind move that was about as sultry as dried toenail clippings. Jareth tried to tear his eyes away from the awkwardly-gyrating goblins, but found that he could not; it was like watching a car crash, except with more booty-shaking.

It was only when the trolls started howling in protest that Jareth was able to shake off his own horror and step in. Calmly, he reached down and grabbed the twitchy-eyed goblin around the throat, lifting him up until he was at eye-level.

"Never. Ever. Do. That. Again," Jareth said with deadly calm.

"Which bit?" asked the goblin, his eye twitching more than usual.

"Every bit," Jareth bit out.

"Damn," said the twitchy-eyed goblin.

"Exactly," said Jareth and dropped him. The crowd laughed as the twitchy-eyed goblin landed on his fellow dancers in a rather chaotic little heap.

Jareth turned to a small goblin who was holding several pieces of parchment and a quill. "Squint, put this song on The Forbidden List."

"Noooo!" screamed the singing goblins as they flailed around, trying to stand up.

Squint looked up at the King, puzzled.

"Ahh which Forbidden List, your Majesty? Forbidden Karaoke Songs Which, If Sung, Will Lead To A Hearty Bogging or Forbidden Karaoke Songs Which, If Sung, Will Lead To Certain Death?"

"Certain Death," Jareth answered grimly.

"Not Certain Death for the hump song!" wailed the goblins.

"Got it, Majesty," said Squint as he carefully wrote the name of the song at the very bottom of the list.

The crowd groaned heartily in protest.

At that moment, Sarah entered the throne room carrying a large bunch of silver balloons. She stopped when she heard the groans and moans of the crowd. Sighing, she looked at the King.

"Let me guess—more songs for The Forbidden Lists?" she said, eyeing the long pieces of parchment in Squint's grubby little hands. "If you keep putting every track that they sing on those lists, there won't be anything left on the karaoke machine!"

Jareth sighed and sat down on the throne, gracefully swinging his legs over the armrest.

"My love, I have been more than generous in allowing my subjects to use my birthday gift," he said, gesturing to the shiny karaoke machine. "And they have repaid me by trying to annihilate my eardrums. Really, those lists are just my form of self-defense."

Sarah looked over at the disappointed heap of goblins, who were still trying to stand upright. "I bet their song didn't deserve to be added to the list."

"We thought it was pretty good. It was rich in humps," said the goblin with the beaky nose as he tried to avoid being kicked in the shin by the goblin with the dented helmet.

Jareth snorted. "The last song was even worse than the Spice Girls medley sung by the trolls."

The trolls looked a little sheepish.

"Oh," said Sarah, trying not to shudder at the flashbacks.

"Is Sarah allowed to sing what's on The Forbidden Lists?" asked the pixie with the gold wings.

"Sarah isn't allowed to sing at all," Jareth said blandly, adjusting his gloves.

Sarah dropped the balloons. "What?! I wasn't that bad!"

Jareth gave her a pitying look. "Sarah, the last time you sang, the fieries cried."

One of the fieries dropped the canapé he was eating and eyed Sarah nervously. "Just give us a runnin' start if you wanna sing again, boss lady."

The rest of the fieries nodded and stealthily edged toward the throne room door.

Sarah pouted and turned toward the smirking king.

"I wasn't that bad," she said rather defensively. "It was just bad luck that I had to go on after you—you're a tough act to follow."

"That is true," Jareth said, tapping his chin in a thoughtful fashion.

It was true. The King had performed a blistering, swaggering, pelvically-fueled set of the most testosterone-laden songs on the karaoke machine. He had strutted and preened his way around the throne room, levitating goblins, and performing a flashy little pyrotechnics display with the aid of a couple of crystals and a flashlight. Moreover, he had donned a new outfit for every number, including a rather dazzling pair of silver sequins breeches that had literally blinded four pixies, a goblin, and a woodland sprite who had been sitting too close to the King when his pants caught the light.

After the casualties had been removed from the throne room, the King had finished his set with a slow, soulful number that would have had the entire crowd swaying and raising their lighters...that is, if lighters had been allowed into the distressingly fire-prone throne room, and if the crowd could have been trusted to use portable flammable devices without setting fire to each other or any surrounding structures.

Sarah rolled her eyes and turned toward the crowd.

"How about you guys step away from the karaoke machine for a moment and give His Majesty a chance to recover his mood; in the meantime we'll play another game." She pointed to a brightly colored papier-mâché donkey that was hanging jauntily from the ceiling. "Now this," she said gesturing to the donkey, "is a piñata."

The crowd looked up at the piñata. The brownies, who had been limbering up for a version of YMCA complete with hand gestures, were not pleased that karaoke had been halted for a paper donkey.

"Fraggin' piñata," the brownies swore.

Sarah gave them a stern look.

The goblin with the beaky nose eyed the piñata speculatively. "It appears to be some kind of demonic horse."

"Oh no, it's actually a donkey," corrected Sarah.

"I don't know about that," said the goblin with the twitchy eye. "It really does look like a horse."

"I agree," said the blue pixie. "It's very horse-like"

The rest of the creatures nodded their agreement.

"It's a donkey, you cretins," the Goblin King yelled.

"Yes, your Majesty!" the crowd replied automatically.

"If you say so," said the goblin with the dented helmet, eyeing the donkey rather dubiously.

The King winked at Sarah. "Do go on," he instructed.

Sarah took a deep breath. "Ok, you hit the donkey…"

"Why?" interrupted a small goblin who was riding a chicken.

"Yeah, it's not like he provoked us or nothin'," said one of the dwarf gardeners.

"He looks like a nice-enough fellow. Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt," said the shy pink-winged pixie.

"Yeah Sarah! Give him another chance!" cried the goblin with the twitchy eye.

"Yeah Sarah!" chanted the rest of the crowd.

"Demonic horse-edy wokka-edy wokkawokka!" yelled the brownies.

"Really Sarah—be generous to the demonic horse," Jareth said slyly.

Sarah raised her eyebrow at the King. The King spread his hands in an innocent gesture. "I'm just trying to help."

Sarah put her hands on her hips. "I'm not sure that I need that kind of help. Don't you have something better to do? Something to bog? Someone to oppress?" she said archly.

The King grinned, his canines flashing, and made a big show of settling into his throne. "Not at all. It's my birthday, after all—surely the bogging and oppressing can wait until tomorrow."

Sarah smiled sweetly. "Then relax, your Majesty—I'll let you know when I need your particular brand of help."

Jareth bowed his head solemnly, though the look in his mismatched eyes suggested that he was wickedly amused.

Sarah turned her back on the King and raised her hand for silence

"The donkey is not real. He is a party decoration that I've filled with candy. If you hit him with this stick," she said, holding up a large stick that had been decorated with multicolored ribbons, "the donkey will break open and all of the candy will fall out."

The crowd pondered that information for a moment.

A small goblin raised his hand. "So the demonic horse has eaten your candy?"

Sarah shook her head. "Oh no, it hasn't eat—"

"And you want us to beat it out of him with that fine looking stick?" interrupted one of the goblin guards.

"No, not exactly. It's—"

"Even though the horse hasn't technically done anything wrong," interrupted one of the dwarves.

"No, wait—," she said, trying to get a word in edgewise.

"I'm confused!" yelled the pixie with gold wings.

"It sounds as though someone could use some Kingly help," Jareth said in a sing-song manner, brushing a speck of dust off his leather pants.

Sarah ran a hand through her hair and gave the King an exasperated look. "Be my guest."

The King smirked and turned to the crowd. "Beat the demonic horse with the stick or I'll bog you," he announced dryly.

"Yes, your Majesty," chanted the crowd.

"That clears things up," said the gold-winged pixie in relief.

"Thanks," Sarah said a trifle sarcastically.

The King smirked. "What are old friends for?"

"Are there marshmallows in the demonic horse?" asked the goblin with the beaky nose.

Sarah nodded. "Lots of them."

The goblin with the beaky nose straightened his helmet. "That's it—the demonic horse is going down."

He took the piñata stick from Sarah and backed up a few paces. Taking a deep breath, he charged.

"Death to the demonic horse!" he cried as he leapt into the air.

With a mighty swing, he hit the donkey as hard as he could. The donkey swung wildly in the air for several moments and then slowed to a gentle sway, still in full possession of its candy.

"Well," said Jareth pleasantly. "That was anti-climactic."

Suddenly, the string that suspended the donkey from the ceiling broke, plunging the smiling donkey towards the floor. Thankfully, the beaky-nosed goblin broke its fall.

"AHHH!" yelled the beaky-nosed goblin from under the donkey. "It's getting its revenge!"

"Much better," said the King, smiling in satisfaction.

The crowd roared with laugher. After a few minutes of watching the beaky-nosed goblin waving his limbs frantically from underneath the donkey, Jareth rolled his eyes and motioned for the guards to liberate him.

"It appears that we have defeated the enemy, your Majesty," said one of the guards as he pulled the beaky-nosed goblin out from beneath the donkey.

"Well, that would be a first," Jareth said dryly.

Sarah looked down at the conquered donkey and bit her lip. "I don't understand what went wrong. I thought we had tied it up securely."

She looked over at the little winged goblin who had been responsible for attaching the donkey to the ceiling. He looked around rather shiftily for a moment and then hid behind a troll. Sarah rolled her eyes and looked down at the rest of the crowd.

"Well, I'm sorry guys—I guess we won't be having a piñata this year after all."

"Oh no! After all that, I want marshmallows!" yelled the beaky-nose goblin.

He shrugged off the guard, swayed unsteadily on his feet for a moment, and then began to beat the donkey with the piñata stick. After a minute, the other creatures rushed to join in.

"Precious, you may want to retreat to higher ground," Jareth said, patting the empty space beside him on the throne.

Sarah quickly made her way to the Goblin King, dodging goblins armed with brooms, trolls hefting clubs, and brownies wielding very sharp toothpicks. When she finally reached the throne, Jareth took her hand and pulled her down so that she was sitting on his lap. She leaned back against his chest and then wriggled a little until she was comfortable. Jareth raised an eyebrow.

"Continue squirming and your seat will become less comfortable rather than more so," he said meaningfully, wrapping his arms around her.

Sarah gave him a saucy little smile and wriggled a bit more for good measure. Jareth closed his eyes and swallowed. Watching his expression, Sarah smiled impishly and patted his cheek.

"Happy birthday," she said mischievously.

"It is indeed," he said, smirking.

A loud crash drew their attention back to the donkey; several woodland sprites were moaning on the floor, having accidentally found themselves in the path of a silver canapé tray wielded by a rather enthusiastic fiery. The crowd simply stepped over the dizzy sprites and continued on their merry way.

"I don't know what went wrong," Sarah said bemused, looking at the crowd as they gleefully beat the donkey.

"There, there," Jareth said distractedly, moving her long dark hair over her shoulder so that he could run his gloved finger along her cheek.

"There should have been candy flying out," she said wistfully.

"Yes, yes. Life can be cruel…," he murmured, running his lips along the curve of her ear.

"Are you even paying attention?" she asked curiously, inhaling sharply as she felt the familiar tingle of his lips brushing against her ear.

"Not at all," he said unrepentantly, tugging on her earlobe.


Although she had meant to sound indignant, Sarah's comment came out somewhere between a groan and a gasp because what he was doing with his mouth was really quite splendid.

Jareth sighed and pulled away. He looked over at his subjects.

"Sarah, they are happier beating that donkey senseless than they ever would have been if it had simply dispensed candy. Which, frankly, is a rather a relief—the last thing I need is for them to beat every horse, demonic or otherwise, in the kingdom in the hope that candy will come out of it."

Sarah looked at a pixie who was running toward the donkey. With an axe.

"Hmm, that's a good point," she conceded.

"Of course it is! I made it," he said arrogantly, watching from the corner of his eye to see her response.

Sarah knew he was baiting her and tried to stop herself from reacting. Then she remembered that it was his birthday. She rolled her eyes at him in a rather exaggerated fashion. Jareth threw back his head and laughed.

"Why do I get the feeling that you were indulging me?" he said slyly.

"Well, it is your birthday," she said, patting his leather-clad thigh.

"Very generous of you," he said, taking her hand from his leg and kissing her palm.

"I thought so myself," she said, sighing with satisfaction over her good deed.

He laughed again and placed another tingling kiss behind her ear, the tips of his wild blonde hair caressing her neck. Sarah shivered, closing her eyes at the feel of his lips and the feathery brush of his hair on her skin. Jareth smiled, delighted by her response, so he did it again…and again…and then once again, for good measure…until he felt Sarah positively melt in his embrace.

"It seems as though I have found a rather vulnerable spot," he murmured against her skin. "I shall add it to the list," he purred, pleased.

"Pfft," she said, rather inelegantly, "It would be quicker to make a list of my non-vulnerable spots."

"They too, shall be conquered," he said decisively.

Sarah opened her eyes and smiled up at him rather lazily. But then her attention wandered back to the donkey, who was now leaking Skittles onto the throne room floor. She grimaced.

Jareth looked speculatively at Sarah's distressed face and then at the donkey.

"Would you like me to bog it for you?" he asked with a sly smile.

Sarah sighed. "Why is it always the bog with you? There are other ways of dealing with conflict, you know."

Jareth raised an eyebrow. "You would prefer that I reason with the donkey, perhaps? Or that I sit it down to discuss its feelings about the matter?" he drawled dryly.

Sarah's lips twitched.

Jareth made an elegantly dismissive hand gesture. "It's an insubordinate paper donkey that refused to release its confectionary on my birthday—a treasonous act such as that one should be punished with a trip to the bog."

Sarah sighed. "Given everything that you send to that bog, it's surprising that it isn't more crowded in there."

"I am fortunate to own a rather deep bog," he said, smirking.

Sarah merely shook her head and looked at back at the donkey. Jareth tilted his head, watching her thoughtfully.

"Hmm, I can see that you are tempted to bog the unfortunate creature."

Sarah hesitated and the King smiled triumphantly.

"Go on," he said persuasively, "think of the marvelous splash it will make."

"You are the most terrible influence," she said with a reluctant smile.

"Thank you," he said sincerely, kissing her temple.

"Speaking of bogging, what do you think of your new birthday t-shirt?" she said, stroking the black cotton over his chest.

Jareth looked rather fondly down at his new Don't Make Me Bog You t-shirt. "It is most acceptable," he said. "Pity I can't say the same about my new book," he said, holding it up for Sarah to see.

Sarah peered at the title. "The Cowboy's Rampant Hunger," she read, trying to smother a smile.

She took the book from Jareth and looked more closely at the cover. A red-headed cowboy, whose flannel shirt was inexplicably tight across his muscled chest, was leering down the cleavage of a buxom saloon girl. "So why did they buy you this book?" she asked curiously. 'Was it because you and the hero have a tendency to wear pants, just like last year's book?"

"No, it's because we both wear boots," he said, eyeing the cowboy's gaudy brown boots with distaste. "Though mine are infinitely superior."

"Ahhh," said Sarah. She made a great show of looking at Jareth and then the hero. "The resemblance is amazing!" she said in mock awe.

"Hmm, on second glance, the heroine on the cover looks remarkably like you," Jareth said, tapping his chin thoughtfully.

Sarah looked at the blonde saloon girl, whose mountainous cleavage was trying to make a break from her flimsy bodice.

"Ahh…how so?" asked Sarah, eyeing the saloon girl's cleavage a little fearfully.

Jareth bent his head so that his lips were close to her ear. "Your toes," he whispered.

Sarah looked at the cover and noticed that the saloon girl was wearing red toenail polish. Smiling, she lifted her leg and pulled up her jeans until she could see her red-painted toes peaking out from her strappy sandals.

"Wow, we could be sisters," she said, looking at her toes.

"It's uncanny," Jareth agreed.

Sarah laughed and placed the book onto the floor. "So, are you enjoying your birthday, your Majesty?"

Jareth looked around the throne room and smiled. "Aside from the parts where I was forced to listen to those cretins howl into a microphone, this birthday has been quite pleasant. I attribute that all to you, of course."

"Really?" she said happily.

He nodded. "Take the decorations for instance." He gestured to the silver balloons and streamers that were scattered all over the room. "Typically, the goblins simply hang a bunch of sticks on the wall with maybe a chicken or two, if they were feeling particularly festive."

"Very rustic," Sarah said, smiling.

"Indeed. Though my favorite decoration happens to be that one," he said, gesturing to a small goblin whose friends were wrapping him from head-to-toe in streamers.

"Oh no!" said Sarah, trying to get up to help the mummified goblin. Jareth held her back.

"Don't worry, love—he'll be able to chew his way out."

Sarah could hear the goblin's muffled laughter coming from under the streamers so she settled back against Jareth's chest. Jareth smiled as he felt Sarah relax against him.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"For what?"

"For decorating the room with more than poultry and a couple of sticks. For baking the delicious birthday cake—which was blessedly free of fieries. And for that lamentable demonic donkey," he said, eyeing the rather flattened remains of the piñata with amusement. "I'll even thank you for that karaoke machine, though it is obviously capable of great evil when it falls into the wrong hands."

"You're welcome," she said, kissing him on the cheek. "Though the karaoke machine wasn't from me—it was from all of them," she said, gesturing to the crowd. "I have my own birthday gift for you."

She scrambled off his lap and, reaching under the throne, brought out a chocolate cupcake. It was covered in white icing and small silver sprinkles; a blue candle had been placed very carefully in the centre. It was remarkably regal…for a cupcake.

Jareth smiled in delight. "I'm having a rather pleasant sense of déjà vu," he said, taking the cupcake from Sarah and placing it carefully on the armrest of his throne.

Sarah wrapped her arms around his neck. "I was thinking that we could reenact your last birthday…," she whispered in his ear, rubbing her nose against his cheek.

"What, all of it?" he said with a slow, devilish smile. He turned in the circle of her arms until he was facing her. "Will there be pillow-fights and those insulting little yellow notes?" he whispered, brushing his lips along her jaw. "Broom-closet dances, and birthday wishes?" he purred, feathering a trail of tingling kisses down the length of her throat until she shuddered and threw back her head, arching for him. "And will there be kisses before I leave and all sorts of delightful carnal acts when I return?" he whispered huskily as he bent his head, lapping at the pulse at the base of her throat.

Unable to bear his wicked teasing a moment longer, Sarah entwined her fingers through strands of wild golden hair and dragged his mouth to hers. For a moment—one perfect, suspended, moment—she threw herself into the kiss, losing herself in the electric current that danced over his lips…the delicious heat of his mouth…the hard pulse of his heart against hers. She kissed him until he groaned against her lips and fisted his hands into her dark green t-shirt, trying to pull her closer, trying to pull her into his body. But she broke away and placed a finger over his lips.

"Which was only an hour later," she said a little dizzily. She slid up so that she was sitting a little straighter on his lap—quite an accomplishment given that her spine felt gelatinous from his kisses. "At the time, I was a little distracted but I always wanted to ask you about that. You promised me ten Underground hours to decide whether or not I wanted my wish but you came back only an hour later. So do tell, your Majesty—since when does ten Underground hours equate to a single Aboveground hour?" She removed her finger from his lips so that he could speak.

Jareth made a great show at nonchalance, though his mismatched eyes were still dark with all sorts of deliciously dangerous things. He raised an eyebrow. "When you are the King, of course."

Sarah grinned and mimicked him, raising her eyebrow just as regally. Jareth laughed, but then he noticed the stubborn glint in her eye and he sighed theatrically. "When I returned from your apartment that night, I found that most of my subjects were completely drunk and wedged in the hedgemaze—which miraculously, was not on fire—and rest were unconscious and sprawled in the singed fountain. My throne room was dripping with cake and hyperactive brownies, and my bedchamber was unacceptably Sarah-free. Really, can you blame me for speeding things up a bit?"

Sarah smiled. She reached up and traced his lips with the tip of her finger. "Not really. Actually, I was more surprised that you restrained yourself long enough to give me an hour. To think I called you my hero," she said, dropping her finger from his lips and shaking her head in mock disappointment.

He sighed tragically. "I am a lamentable hero."

But he didn't look at all repentant. In fact, he looked rather proud.

"Well, I'll give you this—you move quickly. If Sleeping Beauty had you as a hero, she would not have been in that tower for one hundred years."

Jareth snorted and pulled her closer. "That prince of hers was an idiot. If you were stuck in a tower, I would have liberated you in under five minutes."

"That's comforting," she said, resting her head on his chest and rubbing her cheek against his new birthday t-shirt.

And frankly, it was comforting to Sarah. This was a fairytale realm—one never knew what was around the corner.

"Unless I put you there," he added with a wicked glint in his mismatched eyes.

That was less comforting and an unfortunate drawback of living with a slightly villainous king. Sarah looked speculatively at her dastardly king who was currently looking particularly smug.

"I wouldn't be in that tower alone would I?" she said archly.

He looked affronted. "Good lord no! Where would the fun in that be for me?'

Sarah laughed. "Heaven help me if you aren't having fun."

"It's probably wise to keep me amused," he agreed.

Sarah rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to the cupcake. "So, what will you wish for this year, your Majesty? Not that I should grant you your wish—you still haven't finished giving me mine," she said accusingly.

Jareth rolled his eyes. "It's not through a lack of trying, my love. I only have one set of lips and you did ask for a lot of kisses, you greedy girl."

Sarah made a dismissive little hand gesture that she had picked up from the King. "Excuses, excuses—the time you spend arguing with me is time you could have spent fulfilling my wish." She pointed to her cheek expectantly.

He sighed sufferingly. "Add this to the count." He kissed her cheek and then dragged his lips to her earlobe.

"Will you grant me a wish?" he whispered huskily.

She shivered at the feel of his breath against her skin. "Will it be a dance?"

He pulled back and gave her a rather devilish leer. "Of a sort, precious thing. I was actually thinking something more along the lines of this…"

Jareth made a rolling gesture with his hand, conjuring a crystal. He allowed it to perch on the tips of his fingers for a moment and then offered it to Sarah.

Sarah peered into. Her eyes widened. "Is that even possible?" she said, blushing.

She looked around to make sure the creatures were not paying them any attention. They weren't—they were completely absorbed in watching a troll trying to swallow a balloon.

Jareth laughed low in her ear. "Not only possible but rather, shall we say, invigorating." He twisted the crystal a little to the right. "And if you turn it this way…which would allow us to completely discount gravity…"

He offered her crystal again with a rather heated look. Sarah took a deep breath and looked inside. She swallowed. Hard. And felt all the blood in her body run quite joyously toward her pelvis.

"That's it," she said decisively, "we're leaving." She went to stand, but he held her against his chest, laughing.

"We can't leave yet, precious thing," he said regretfully.

Sarah tried to wiggle free from the strong arms that were wrapped around her chest. "Well, when can we leave? What are we waiting for?" she asked impatiently.

Jareth was rather delighted at her impatience. "We are waiting for a signal that the festivities are at an end. It happens every year." He sifted his fingers through her hair soothingly.

Sarah gave up trying to escape and relaxed into his embrace.

"What kind of signal?" she asked, puzzled.

At that moment, a small goblin came running up to the King.

"Ahh, Majesty? Sorry to disturb you but the demonic horse is on fire."

Jareth smirked. "That was what we were waiting for."

Sure enough, the donkey was on fire. The goblins and the other assembled creatures were now frantically trying to beat out the flames that were burning a bright sugar-fueled blue. There was a rather spectacular moment when the goblins tried to douse the flames with ale. The resulting bonfire singed the ceiling and removed the eyebrows off all of the subjects in the immediate vicinity of the flambé donkey. Not that they minded—

the eyebrow-less subjects were all incredibly proud of the fact that they had been injured so early in the celebrations. Oblivious to the chaos around him, the beaky-nosed goblin had liberated a couple of marshmallows from the donkey and was now roasting them quite happily.

"How is that possible?!" Sarah exclaimed, her nose wrinkling at the smell of burnt hair and paper donkey. "There were no torches or matches or anything to start this fire."

Jareth shrugged. "Love, I have learnt from experience that almost anything is flammable on my birthday." He turned to the goblins. "Put the fire out. I'll be in my chambers, unwrapping my present."

With a rather dastardly leer that was remarkably similar to that displayed by the cowboy on the cover of his new book, the King deftly picked up his laughing Queen and disappeared. The crowd coughed, waving away the clouds of glitter that marked the Royal Couple's exit, and looked over at the large pile of presents that were still sitting next to the throne.

"That's weird. He didn't take them with him," said the blue-winged pixie.

"Well, he was holding the Queen—it's hard to hold presents and a girl at the same time."

They all nodded at the wisdom of the words. And sighed. This year, the fire had come before the drunken brawl and they were all feeling a little lost over the fact that events weren't happening as planned.

"So…what's next?" asked the goblin with the dented helmet.

"It seems a pity not to have the brawl, it being tradition and all," said one of the dwarf gardeners.

"I guess we should just wait for it to happen," said the blue-winged pixie.

Sighing in resignation, the crowd settled down to wait. And, as luck would have it, at that exact moment, a shaft of sunlight came through the throne room window and illuminated the karaoke machine, which stood in the corner of the throne room, all shiny and out-of-bounds. Everyone in the crowd looked at each other and smiled rather fiendishly. With one eye on the door, Squint nonchalantly walked across the throne room and 'accidentally' dropped the Forbidden Lists on the flaming donkey…repeatedly…until they caught fire. The brownies made a break for the microphone.

"Singedy singedy wakkkawakkka!" they yelled triumphantly.

Thus, by the cheery glow of the demonic horse, the congregation sang all of the songs on the Forbidden Lists. Twice. Including the song about the hump-like skin condition, complete with a rather unfortunate bump-and-grind dance number.

And a good time was had by all…until the unfortunate incident with the turnip that started a whole new birthday tradition. But really, that's another story…

The End


For those who are interested, the Goblin King's karaoke set included the following tracks (many of which were requested by you, the reviewers. Sorry if I missed any!). So take a moment and picture His Tightness singing:

I'm Too Sexy (Right Said Fred). As requested by me and seconded by Kore-Of-Myth, Jill O'Brien, and AlleatoryMadness.

Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard): People, you should have seen Jareth gyrate to this one. As requested by Izzy Rockette/PIR

Sex Machine (James Brown). As requested by shechosedown.

Wicked Game (Chris Issaks). As requested by Phuriedae.

Every breath you take (The Police): because, frankly, the guy is a voyeur.

Do ya think I'm sexy? (Rod Stewart). Yes, yes we do. As requested by LaniC.

Cream (Prince). Prince also wears fiendishly tight pants.

Sexyback (Justin Timberlake): As requested by Mercuralis and Phuriedae.

Let's Get It On (Marvin Gaye). A song so sleazy that you really need to bathe in antiseptic afterward. Unsurprisingly, Jareth thought it was quite splendid. Dedicated to Jack Hawksmoor. You know you love it, Jack.

You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman) (Aretha Franklin). Jareth was having a great time singing this song …until he got to the chorus and the whole 'natural woman' bit. The goblin who chose the song was bogged. Repeatedly.

CoffeeKris, His Majesty refused point-blank to sing Dude looks like a lady. In fact, after it was requested, he had a hissy-fit and went up to his room where he spent an hour gazing sullenly at his peach lip-gloss.

For the record, Forbidden Karaoke Songs Which, If Sung, Will Lead To Certain Death include: Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice baby, Ricki Martin's She Bangs, anything by Justin Timberlake, anything by the Spice Girls, particularly Spice up your life, and every song ever sung, recorded, or hummed in the shower by Celine Dion.

Do review—The Goblin King will happily take your song requests.