Sarah watched with grim determination as the pages of Le Livre De Bogey smoked, curled, and smoldered, finally burning in a brilliant flash of purple fire. It had been one of the hardest decisions she'd ever had to make and, even as she watched the pages slowly turn to ash, she still wasn't sure if she'd done the right thing.
"Remind me again why you're doing this?" a whisper came from the shadows.
She turned around, facing the woods behind her house, and watched as Jareth slowly materialized. "So that you know I mean business," she replied gruffly. "If you ever slip up or do anything I don't like, I'll tear out more pages from the book and burn them."
Jareth gave her a skeptical look, then turned to watch the small fire burn itself out. He grimaced after a moment. "Those were the pages on time-travel," he grumbled. "Damn. And I so enjoyed that power, too."
Sarah heaved a sigh, her mind going back to Halloween. She had been ready to toss The Bogey Book into the flaming mess of the library… until Jareth had spoken. "It's a horrible way to die. Don't do it, Sarah." Her mind had immediately gotten stuck on the word 'die'. Her plan hadn't been murder until that point, she had merely wanted to help her town, but that one word had turned her whole world around. She didn't want to live in his world of chaos anymore than anyone else did, but was she really will to kill him in order to get things back to normal? She had joked about it, in frustration, but the reality had knotted her stomach. His offers had been brutally tempting, his company had been growing on her, and he looked human; she simply could not find it within herself to end his life.
Jareth had stood behind her, silent after his plea, watching as the pages of the book began to discolor, but he never touched her, never made a move to stop her. Just an intense presence waiting for her verdict. Her warrior's heart had crumbled and she'd had no choice but to take the book away from the flames, back to safety. He hadn't said anything, not even when she'd muttered, "I am so going to hell for this."
She had decided to keep the Bogeyman. And, though she wasn't willing to burn the book as a whole, she was, in no way, above burning a couple of pages to make a point. She'd even gone out and bought herself an old-fashioned Zippo lighter expressly for that purpose. It was a good leash to have over someone like him because she had a feeling that things would be strange enough without having to worry about his many powers and amoral wiles.
"You couldn't have burned the pages on my astoundingly useless ability to turn milk sour?" Jareth interrupted her thoughts, bringing her back to the present.
Sarah shrugged. "I could have," she conceded, "but I didn't want to chance you being able to go back and undo Halloween. If it's not in the book then I don't have to worry about you screwing around with time."
"And you'll only burn pages when I do something that isn't nice?" he sneered the last words, sounding thoroughly disgusted with it.
"So if I kicked you in the shins right now, would you destroy number two eighty?" he asked, a hopeful note in his voice.
She flipped to the page in question. "Restoring items to a previous condition," she read. "You're just trying to get out of rebuilding the library, aren't you?" she asked with a glare.
"If you had been trapped in that building for two hundred years, you wouldn't want to see it rebuilt either," he stated firmly. "That place was a prison to me, and waiting through the unending years for someone to release me from the book was torture."
She continued to glare at him, completely unsympathetic. The library had been her favorite place in all of Smithburg and he'd razed it to the ground like a petulant child. "If it will make you feel any better you can modify a few things but you are going to rebuild it or, so help me, I will burn the entire chapter on physical form. I doubt you'd have any fun at all as a free-floating miasma of bogey-ish intent."
He grimaced. "I'm going to regret not taking the book from you, aren't I?"
"You could have," Sarah finally acknowledged something that had been bothering her deeply. "You have more powers than you know what to do with, you're faster than I am, and yet I made it to the library's fire before you did. Why is that? Why didn't you try to stop me?"
He didn't answer.
"Fine, keep your secrets," she huffed when the silence began to stretch on. "But we have a long future together, buddy boy," she warned, waving the book in his face, "and I'll find a way to get it out of you sooner or later."
Jareth hadn't tried to stop her because the thought of death, of permanent release from the bonds of Le Livre De Bogey hadn't seemed like such a bad thing. He had spent two hundred years alone, trapped in a library where no one could see him because his life was dictated by the words of The Bogey Book. For two hundred years he had been forced to watch the world change without being able to partake in its glory. He had had to live with the knowledge that even when he did manage to join the human world, he would be driven to destroy it because the book demanded that he create chaos. And not only that, but his time in the mortal world was always brief—a short burst of joy and freedom followed by another long stretch of isolation.
Stopping Sarah wouldn't have been hard at all, as she had pointed out, but he had wanted out of the endless cycle. It had been ironic and fitting that she had threatened to throw the book into the library's fire; both had been insufferable prisons to him, so why shouldn't they burn together? Fire was a horrible why to die though, and some part of him loathed the thought of defeat, so he had been driven to offer up his one plea, but had made no move to stop the girl.
She had taken his plea to heart, though, and for a moment he had been sharply disappointed. Until he had learned that Sarah had no more love for the book than he did, that is. Let her burn the pages; every power she took away just made him that much less its prisoner. He could live; for the first time in his long and weary existence, he could finally live.
Jareth smiled as he watched Sarah stomp up to the house, then bang her way around the kitchen, still irked with him. They had a lot of problems to work out, like how to explain to Smithburg what had happened, or how to explain his sudden appearance and strange abilities to anyone who noticed, but they would come up with something. Together. He owed a lot to her, and even though it amused him to keep her frustrated, he would not allow her to work alone anymore. She had saved him and, whether or not she liked it or even realized it, that simple action had earned her the loyalty of the Goblin King.
Less than a week ago, he had despised his immortal existence. Now, watching Sarah curse and grumble to whatever she was cutting in the kitchen, Jareth couldn't help but think that perhaps life was not such a curse after all.
A/N: My deepest apologies to those who thought that the last chapter was the end; even I would never be so cruel and, as many of you pointed out, there were still a few holes that needed to be filled in.
Anyway, I hope you all had fun; it was certainly interesting to write. Thank you to everyone who reviewed; I was blown away by the wonderful responses you guys gave!
Disclaimer: I don't own… anything. I don't even have any real original characters in this story.