Of Pineapples and Kings
Author's Note: Come closer to the fire, my sweets and let ol' Lixxle tell you a story that will send a shiver down your spine. Beware, my little ones! For this tale of shadows has awakened fear in the stoutest heart and has made grown men cower beneath their …oh who the hell am I kidding? I can't write horror; I can only write crotch-rich stories that border on crackfic (crotch-crack, if you will). So here it is—sickly-sweet Halloween crotch-crack. Really, you'll have to floss after you finish it.
Many thanks, as always, to the exceptional Phuriedae and KnifeEdge for exorcising the evil out of this story, with an extra helping of gratitude to KnifeEdge for naming this beastie. You should have seen it BEFORE they read it *shudders*
Disclaimer: Nothing in this story is mine. In fact, all the bits you like probably belong to someone with a really scary lawyer.
"Explain to me," said Jareth, reaching rather indolently for the last cinnamon cookie, "what it is that you do on Halloween."
"Hey! That one's mine!" Sarah yelled indignantly.
She tried to slap his hand away but he was far too quick. She had learned over the past three months that you really couldn't slap Jareth unless he allowed it. The fact that he allowed it more often than not led Sarah to believe that either: a) he wanted her to touch him and wasn't particularly fussy as to how she went about it; or b) the King of the Goblins harbored some not-so-closet masochistic fantasies. Sarah leaned toward the latter explanation. In fact, she had started a mental list entitled 'Evidence that Jareth is an S&M fiend' where she dutifully added 'enjoys being slapped' alongside 'is overly fond of leather', 'owns a riding crop but not a horse', and 'wears constrictive pants that may be hazardous to his health and fertility'.
Sarah took a quick look his hazardous pants—for the purposes of research, of course—and then looked back up at the King.
"You know, a gentleman would have left me the last cookie, particularly when he knew that it was my favorite kind," she said reproachfully.
Jareth nodded agreeably. "He probably would have, the pitiful cookie-less sod."
Sarah shook her head in a rather exaggerated fashion and sighed tragically. "I guess it's a sure sign that chivalry is dead when a King won't give a girl a cookie." She tried to look heartbroken.
Jareth wasn't buying it. He raised one wickedly arched eyebrow. "Precious, I do believe that the woman who defeated my Labyrinth, broke my ballroom, ravaged the Goblin city, and…what is that term you mortals are so fond of? Oh yes...bitchslapped my army can fend for herself. If she wanted the cookie, she would have taken it."
"That's probably true," Sarah conceded, pleased.
"And if we are going to talk about chivalry, do remember that I have created portals between our worlds, reordered time, and even…lord help me…jump-started your car on occasions. And I did it all for you."
"You have a point," Sarah conceded. "Though, that means…"
Jareth held up his hand for silence.
"But let me be clear on this matter; although I have been very generous up to now when it comes to satisfying your whims, this tasty morsel is mine." He emphasized his remark by sticking out his tongue and slowly licking the back of the cookie.
Sarah watched the cookie-licking in shock. "I can't believe you did that! Toby used to do that! How old are you? Three?"
Jareth positively reveled in Sarah's horror. "It's the way that the goblins mark their territory. Though, it tends to get hazardous when the object that they are marking is particularly sharp or on fire."
Sarah shuddered delicately. "You really have been hanging out with them too long." She shook her head at the grinning King. "Well, you win; I certainly don't want it now."
Jareth closed his eyes in sheer bliss. "Ahh sweet, sweet victory. Say it again, Sarah. Say that I won," he purred.
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Remind me to spike the next batch of cookies with bog water."
Jareth laughed and settled back into 'The Chair', gracefully hooking his leg over the armrest. 'The Chair'—an ostentatious throne-like thing that positively reeked of leather and testosterone—had appeared in Sarah's living room three months ago, just after she had moved into her new apartment. She had stared at it for about twenty minutes and then, not knowing quite what to do about it, dusted it half-heartedly. The next day she had walked into her living room and found that 'The Chair' now had a grinning Goblin King draped all over it. Initially she had been shocked and rather wary, but he had been charming and a touch despondent and she figured that after thirteen years she could afford to hear his side of the story. Besides, his presence on 'The Chair' had added a certain style and panache that had been missing from her rather sparse living room decor, so she had let him stay for tea. Everyday. And lunch on Sundays.
Jareth took a bite from his ill-gotten cookie. "Tell me about Halloween," he prompted.
Sarah settled back into her cozy armchair and took a sip from her mug of hot chocolate. "Well, we usually dress up and go trick-or-treating."
"Dress up and go trick-or-treating?" He took another bite of his cookie and chewed meditatively. "Hmm, I'm not sure what this 'trick-or-treating' entails but I am relieved that you will not be doing it naked," he said slyly. He brushed stray cinnamon crumbs from his brown leather pants. "I believe I need more information."
Sarah took another sip of her drink and smiled. "Well, it's usually something that you do when you're a kid. The best part is that you get to dress up as anything you want; a wicked witch, or a treacherous pirate, or a villainous king." The King smiled at that, a rather pointy canine-flashing smile. "And then you go from house-to-house asking the neighbors for treats."
Jareth looked intrigued. "Really? And if they do not give you these 'treats'?"
"Well, then you are allowed to play a trick on them."
"A trick, hey?" Jareth pondered that. "As in turning their pet cat into a wildebeest, or infesting their bed with brownies, or perhaps setting the cleaners on them as they enter their garage?"
Sarah blinked. "Ahh, we usually just throw eggs at their house."
He tapped a finger against his lips. "A trifle primitive. But effective."
"Well not everyone has your flair for mayhem."
"True, it is a gift." He tapped his finger against his chin. "I'm having difficulties picturing this 'trick-or-treating'."
Sarah turned toward the open window, listening to the excited voices coming from the street below.
"Here, let me show you," she said, putting down her mug. She stood up and took Jareth's arm, practically dragging him from 'The Chair' toward the large window.
"I do believe that you are manhandling me," Jareth said mildly as he half stumbled behind her, still clutching his cookie.
Sarah couldn't help but notice that he seemed more than willing to be manhandled by her.
"It's rather pleasant," he confirmed.
Sarah added 'likes being manhandled' to the Goblin King S&M checklist. While she tugged him toward the window, she rather deliberately ignored the feel of his silk shirt under her fingers and the hard warmth of his bicep beneath, and she did not, even for a moment, contemplate the idea that she was only dragging him across the room so that she would have an excuse to touch him. She released his arm and leaned over the window-ledge, grinning a little when he copied her.
It was just beginning to grow dark and the jack-o-lanterns on the porches were starting to glow, their ghoulish smirks growing brighter as the light faded. A sharp little breeze scattered red and gold leaves along the sidewalk, giving the whole scene a charmingly spooky air. The streetlights were just beginning to flicker on, illuminating the pocket-sized witches and princesses, skeletons, and zombies that were quickly filling the street, laughing in fiendish delight.
"Ah!" said Jareth, smiling. After all, he understood fiendish delight better than anyone. He frowned for a moment. "Is that child dressed as a pineapple?" he asked, pointing.
Sarah leaned a little further out the window until she noticed a rather lumpy child wearing green tights. "I think he is."
"How positively diabolical."
They watched the scene in silence, Jareth exceedingly amused by the little show before him. The breeze was beginning to pick up, lifting the ends of Sarah's long dark hair. She absentmindedly ran her fingers through the strands, pulling them away from her face. When she looked over toward Jareth, he was watching her, his lips curled in an odd smile, his head tilted to the side as if he were trying to figure out a rather tricky but agreeable puzzle. Inexplicably, she suddenly felt shy and fumbled for something to say.
"So how do you celebrate Halloween in the Underground? I bet it's a big celebration," she said quickly. She started to roll up the sleeves of her dark green sweater so that she wouldn't have to look him in the eye.
Jareth gracefully hoisted himself onto the window-ledge and then leaned against the frame so that he could watch both Sarah and the scene below him.
"It is. All the Kingdoms take turns hosting the festivities. We usually start with feasting," he said, making himself a little more comfortable on the ledge.
"Of course. There would have to be a feast," she said, smiling.
"Which is then followed by drunken revelry."
Sarah laughed. "I'd expect no less. And then what?"
"Then there is the obligatory dancing around the bonfires."
"Got it. Bonfire dancing."
"Naked,"he added, with a certain relish.
Sarah tried to suppress the mental image of a sinfully naked Jareth 'dance magic dancing' around a bonfire. Then she thought 'what the hell?' and proceeded to picture the scene in all its glory. She was having a marvelous time until she noticed that Jareth was watching her with a rather knowing look in his mismatched eyes and an exceedingly pleased smirk on his lips.
Damn. She fell for that one.
She cleared her throat. "I bet that can get quite chilly."
Jareth nodded. "Not to mention dangerous. There are some rather unfortunate injuries each year."
"I bet," said Sarah, wincing. "And then what?"
"Well, those who emerge from the bonfire dancing unscathed then go on to engage in various orgiastic activities." He looked nonchalantly down at the scene below him as if he hadn't just alluded to the fact that he routinely engaged in Halloween-themed group-groping. "My, is that child dressed as a duck? Or is he a ferret? Good lord, I think he's some monstrous hybrid of the two."
Sarah did not look at the unfortunate duck-ferret. She moved slowly, so as not to dislodge the rather fragile mess that was beating feebly in her chest, and looked up at Jareth. Even in the growing darkness, she could see the glint—the tricky, calculating, manipulative, lying glint—in his eyes. The glint became even more pronounced when he suddenly flicked his gaze in her direction, no doubt trying to gauge her reaction to his words.
Liar, liar, tight pants on fire…
Sarah felt an odd combination of joyous relief and a sudden desire for vengeance. She lifted her chin and waited until he took the last bite of his cookie.
"So on Halloween you feast, and then you dance, and then you have an orgy with the goblins."
Jareth sprayed his mouthful of cookie all over the window. "No! No! Good lord, NO!" He grimaced in horror, looking as though he had just tried to suck the bog through a bendy straw. "Really Sarah, I am going to have to rinse my brain out in ale to get that image out of my head." He shuddered. "I may have to reorder time to get you to revoke that statement."
She smirked. "Take it like a man, your Majesty," she said, patting him on the back a little harder than necessary.
Jareth snorted. "I guarantee that any man would fall into the fetal position and cry his manhood off at such an image."
He looked down at her rather self-satisfied expression and his eyes narrowed. Sarah knew that look—he was going to rally for one last effort. She braced herself.
"As you well know, there aren't just goblins in the Underground," he purred, giving her a rather practiced leer.
He began to hum a few bars of a tune—a familiar, haunting tune—and for a split second Sarah had a flashback of watching Jareth being fondled by several wenches of dubious morals while she wandered around a white ballroom in a lovely but wholly unwieldy gown. Huh. Tricky. She had to admit that it was a good try on his part. Not good enough though…
She pretended to ponder that information. "That's true. You haven't involved Ludo in your pervy rituals, have you?"
Jareth closed his eyes. "I curse you for that mental image." He shuddered again. "I can only imagine the fur-balls that would result from such activities."
Sarah's face scrunched at the thought. "Agh! Did you have to say that?"
"If I have to suffer, so should you," he said with satisfaction. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "I am most definitely reordering time in order to rid ourselves of this entire conversation. Perhaps I'll reorder it back to the part where we noticed that poor unfortunate pineapple child."
Sarah snorted and ran her hand through her windblown hair. "I'd rather go back to the beginning so I can get the last cookie."
"Not a chance," he said, smirking.
Before Sarah could respond, Jareth smiled at her. It was an oddly gentle smile and for some reason it made Sarah catch her breath. She watched him, her heart beginning to skip a little, as he slid gracefully off the window-ledge and walked toward her until they were toe-to-toe. He was still smiling that strange little smile. The breeze blew one of his long golden strands of hair against her cheek and she almost physically jumped at the sensation. Jareth's smile turned into something a shade darker and he reached out, ever so slowly, and caressed the delicate skin of her inner wrist with one gloved finger.
It was such a small touch, really—a brush of leather against skin—but every single cell in Sarah's body stilled.
She felt poised, as if she was on the edge of a precipice and all it would take was one more touch and she would free-fall into pure sensation.
One more touch…
Such a pity that Jareth only ever granted one small, exquisite, above-the-waist, Disney-rated touch at a time.
And yet…and yet this time, the innocent caress was accompanied by a rather adult look. Those mismatched eyes seemed to promise things; hot, endless kisses, frantic fingers tearing off fabric and scattering buttons, the glorious slide of entwined bodies, and all of the delicious sensations that could be coaxed to new heights by the touch of leather across skin. That marvelously carnal look practically dared Sarah to drag Jareth to 'The Chair' right this moment and seduce him senseless in a variety of aerobically-effective ways.
But she didn't. Although Sarah was the kind of person who went after what she wanted—and if she had to smash up a goblin city or two to get it, well, so be it—it suddenly mattered very much to her that Jareth was of a similar mind. And if that meant waiting until his caresses heated up to match the look in his eyes, well then she'd wait. She sighed. She felt as though she had been waiting forever, and despite what Jareth may have once told her, forever is a damn long time to wait when one is under the influence of a hormonal tsunami.
"You know, observing isn't enough; I believe I will have to experience this first hand," Jareth said suddenly, his voice a little huskier than normal.
Sarah, her wrist still tingling and her mind rather carnally preoccupied, blinked. And then swallowed. "I beg your pardon?"
Come on, Jareth, she thought, say your right words…
Sarah watched as he hardened his jaw and tore his gaze from hers. He turned toward the window, making an elegant gesture toward the street outside. When he turned back, he was calm, composed, and smirking. "This trick-or-treat ordeal."
Damn. Those weren't the right words—they didn't even start with "I wish" (to ravish you).
Sarah shook her head to clear it. "You want to go trick-or-treating?"
He gave her a devilish smile. "Well, I'd rather be 'trick-or-tricking' but I believe I should uphold tradition, at least this first time.
Sarah rallied. "Well, ok then. The first thing we need to do is to find a costume for you to wear."
Jareth stepped away from Sarah and, before her very eyes, he began to transform. His brown leather pants and white open-necked shirt darkened until they were the color of the midnight sky; armor began to unfold over his chest, gauntlets unfurled over his hands, and a high necked cloak emerged from the shadows to drape itself around his shoulders. Out of nowhere, a fierce breeze suddenly moved through the room, dancing through Jareth's hair and twisting his cloak, scattering glitter throughout the living room. The breeze raised goosebumps over Sarah's bare forearms, and she felt a sudden sense of déjà vu; the manstanding before her was no longer her cookie-thieving friend but her very own villainous, Toby-snatching, Goblin King.
Jareth struck a menacing pose. "Well?" he asked slyly.
She snickered. "You're going as the Goblin King?"
He lifted an eyebrow. "You would prefer me to go as Hogwort?"
Sarah rolled her eyes. "The whole point of wearing a costume is to be something that you are not."
He gave her a rather meaningful glance and performed a sarcastic little bow.
Oh. Sarah shot him a rather apologetic little smile. It isn't every day that a young girl manages to bind a mythical creature to become a slave to her whims, particularly when those whims require the mythical creature in question to undergo a complete evil makeover. She pushed down the smidgeon of residual guilt and returned to the matter at hand.
"Why not go as a human? You know, see how the other half lives?
Jareth looked horrified. "What? Roam around the world magickless and wearing polyester?" He grimaced. "I'd rather swim in the bog. Besides, what other night could I roam Aboveground in this outfit without causing a scene?"
"That would really depend on the neighborhood," she replied impishly.
Jareth gave a smirk and began to circle her, his cloak swirling dramatically behind him. It was marvelous really, just like old times. "The real question is what costume will you wear?" He bent a little closer to her. "I, for one, would like to see you in something exotic and perhaps tastefully transparent," he said silkily.
Sarah blinked. "Tastefully transparent? How is that even possible? Hang on, forget I asked." She snorted. "I bet you want me to dress as a slave girl or a genie, or something with a lot of leather and a whip…"
Her voice trailed off when she noticed the expression on Jareth's face; he was looking at her as if she had just stumbled upon his secret stash of dreams and he wasn't sure whether to be overjoyed or ashamed. Given that this was Jareth, he went with overjoyed.
He leaned closer to her. "Perhaps you should parade all of these options for me, if only to provide a suitable basis of comparison…," he suggested rather magnanimously.
Sarah stepped away. "Ah thanks for the offer, but no. Hell no. I'll find something to wear. Give me a moment."
She ran to her room, pulling down a box of old theatre costumes from the top of her closet. She knew that she had a gypsy fortune teller outfit in there somewhere that she had worn trick-or-treating once with Toby. But as she rummaged through the brightly colored clothing she saw a flash of pale material. She tugged on the cloth, her heart beating a little faster as she pulled the outfit free from the other costumes. Smiling, she looked down at the tangible memory in her hands—a princess gown that she had worn in a park long, long ago.
Without thinking too hard about what she was about to do, she quickly slipped off her clothing and pulled on the gown. She rummaged back through the box until her fingers found what she was looking for; the ribbons around the coronet were a little discolored and the flowers were crushed, but she carefully teased apart the petals and secured the crown on her head. She took a look at her reflection in the vanity mirror and smiled, remembering the girl she had been.
Then she grimaced.
The gown had been a tight fit back then, but now it was borderline obscene, lovingly outlining all the dips and curves that spelt out just how grown-up she had become. For a moment, she had second thoughts about having her figure so blatantly on display in front of Jareth, but she quickly dismissed them; after all, Jareth seemed to think nothing of strutting around and advertising his anatomical charms for the whole world (and a generation of impressionable goblins) to see. With that in mind, she gave a playful little curtsey to her reflection and left the room.
Sarah tiptoed to the living room, noting that Jareth was standing by the window, laughing at something below. Taking a deep breath, she walked quickly inside the room.
"Ta da!" she said grandly, making a graceful spin.
The look on the Jareth's face was priceless. It was a mix of amusement and surprise and something very close to adoration.
"How nostalgic of you," he said fondly.
His gaze followed the length of her gown and then came back up, catching for a moment on her rather strained bodice. Sarah noticed and said a small prayer of thanks to the puberty gods and her mother's rather ample-chested genes. Jareth made an approving sort of sound and slowly paced around her, observing her from all angles while Sarah simply stood still because that was the way these things were done.
"Hmm," he said thoughtfully, "I see that you are dressed as a peasant."
Sarah's eyes widened. "I'll have you know that I'm a princess."
He stopped pacing to stand in front of her and gave her a rather shrewd look. "I thought the point of this exercise was to dress up as something that you are not," he said slyly.
That earned him an elbow to the ribs, which the King chose to avoid.
He tsked. "Temper, temper, your Highness," he said silkily. He bowed before her, and held out his arm. "I only meant that you should aspire to be so much more."
Sarah adjusted her coronet. "More? Keep in mind that you were going to dress me in so much less as a whip-wielding dominatrix."
He gave her a roughish smile. "At least you would have been armed."
"A weapon would be useful right now," she agreed sweetly. She gracefully placed her arm over his and allowed him to lead her from the room.
They stopped for a moment in the kitchen where Sarah picked up two cotton grocery bags to hold their candy, and then Sarah and the King walked out of the building and into the night.
The atmosphere on the street was electric. The moon was rising, the sugar consumption was high, and Sarah could not stop smiling as Jareth deftly maneuvered them through the crowds of children.
"Try not to snatch anyone," she said mischievously.
Jareth sighed sadly. "But there are so many that take my fancy. Particularly that one," he said, pointing to the boy dressed as a pineapple who had almost fallen backwards under the weight of his leafy headdress.
As they walked around a tree, a small boy in a white gown ran into Jareth, who reached down reflexively to steady him. Jareth took one look at the boy's white painted face and grimaced. "Good lord! Has someone drained all the blood from this poor child?"
Sarah smirked. "He's a ghost."
"I'm dead!" the child said gleefully.
Jareth bent down toward the child. "Don't worry, I shall avenge you," he said, solemnly.
The kid's eyes widened. "Cool!"
Jareth smirked as the child ran off toward the house next door. Sarah grinned up at the King and then looked around, trying to decide upon their first trick-or-treating target. She led Jareth to a nearby house and then stopped.
"Ok, your Majesty, the time has come. You'll need this for your candy," she said, giving him one of the grocery bags.
Jareth gave the bag a rather distasteful look. With a sly smirk, he shook it once, twice, and then once more for good measure. Sarah blinked. The bag was now as dark as Jareth's costume and made of something mysterious and velvety. Not surprisingly, it was also rich in glitter.
"Much more appropriate," he said, eyeing the bag in satisfaction.
Sarah rolled her eyes. Only Jareth would make his trick-or-treating bag more sinister to match his outfit. She tapped her foot impatiently.
"If you have quite finished accessorizing there, Halloween Barbie, it's time for you to climb the stairs, knock on the door and say 'trick or treat'. Do you think you can manage that?"
He looked at her disdainfully. "I'm the Master of the Labyrinth, the ruler of an Otherworldly kingdom, and a wizard of the highest order. Somehow, I think that asking a mortal for a piece of confectionary is well within my capabilities." He bent closer to her until his lips were beside her ear. "And don't think that I missed your wretched doll reference. There will be retribution for that later in the evening."
With a twirl of his cloak, Jareth climbed up the steps and pounded his gauntleted fist on the door three times. He then placed his hands on his hips in a rather menacing manner and waited. Within a few seconds, the door was opened by a young woman dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.
"Trick," announced Jareth.
Sarah sighed and hurried up the steps to stand beside him.
"Or treat," Sarah said quickly.
Jareth scowled at her. "Must we provide her with options?"
Sarah ignored the King and smiled up at Red Riding Hood who, in turn, smiled in a rather awe-struck fashion at the King. This state of affairs continued for some time, until Jareth broke the silence.
"Madam, you have thirteen seconds in which to give us treats before I resort to egging your house as tradition demands."
Sarah looked at the woman apologetically. "He's new at this."
Red Riding Hood, however, seemed delighted. "Of course I'll give you treats! Just give me a second."
She quickly left the doorway and then returned with bowls filled with apples and candy.
"Here," she said, putting treats into Sarah and Jareth's bags. She looked at Jareth rather longingly. "Would you like to stay and have some cider?" she asked the King, pointedly ignoring Sarah.
Jareth flashed her a rather wolfish smile. "Unfortunately not. We have several more houses to pillage."
"Oh," she said, clearly disappointed.
Red Riding Hood continued to stare at Jareth; Jareth, in turn, stared into his sinister bag, trying to make out what he had been given. Sarah stared at both of them and hoped that the rest of the doors down the street would be opened by heterosexual males impervious to the King's physical charms.
After a few awkward moments, Sarah decided it was time to go. "Ah, thanks and Happy Halloween," Sarah said to the fawning Red Riding Hood. She turned to the King. "Jareth? Are you going to say goodbye?"
He made a dismissive hand gesture. "Yes, yes, Halloween tra la la," he said distractedly, still looking into his bag.
Sarah tugged on his arm and he followed her back down to the sidewalk. She grinned, watching the curious King riffle through his bag. "What did you get?" She looked into her own bag. "I got an apple and three candy bars."
Jareth reached into his bag and pulled out a candy bar. "Apparently, I got a Butterfinger," he said, reading the yellow wrapper. "Tell me—does this actually contain a severed appendage dipped in dairy spread?"
Sarah laughed. "It's just candy, I'm afraid. No fingers, no butter. Sorry if that's a disappointment."
"It is somewhat," he admitted. Nevertheless he unwrapped the Butterfinger bar and started to eat the treat quite happily.
"What else did you get?" she asked, peering into his bag.
"More confectionary, an apple and this." Jareth pulled out a piece of cardboard. "A series of numbers." He looked at it disdainfully. "Frankly, it doesn't look particularly palatable."
Sarah snorted. "It's Riding Hood's phone number. She must have really liked your costume." Sarah looked inside her bag. "I should probably check my apple—she probably spiked it with razorblades." Shrugging, she took a piece of candy from her bag and popped it into her mouth.
Jareth gave a sharp little smile. "Despite Red Riding Hood's rather understandable fascination with me," Sarah almost choked on her candy, "her treats were fairly paltry. I do believe that we are within our rights to go back and trick her."
Sarah coughed a little to clear her throat. "As much as I would like to do that, I think we should move on. You never know—the next house could be the one that you get to egg."
Jareth brightened up at the thought and offered her his arm again. They strolled up the street, trick-or-treating and leaving a glittery trail in their wake. By the end of the street, their sacks were heavy with candy and Jareth was slightly disgruntled.
"How does anyone ever get to play a trick when everyone gives out treats?" he complained.
"People prefer receiving treats than doing tricks," she explained for the fourth time.
He snorted. "That is clearly a matter of opinion."
As they walked back down the street, Sarah had the distinct impression that they were being followed. She stopped, looking around until she spied several oddly shaped shadows gathered around the trunk of an old elm tree. One of the shadows waved at her. Jareth sighed.
"Home," he commanded the shadows. "Now."
"But Majesty, look at all the treasures we are gathering!" one of the shadows said proudly.
"We're rich!" said another.
A dirty pillowcase appeared followed by three small goblins, one of whom had a jack-o-lantern on his head complete with burning candle.
Jareth looked at the goblin wearing the pumpkin. "Nice hat," he said dryly.
The goblin patted it. "It's orange," he said happily.
Jareth rubbed his hand wearily over his eyes.
Sarah's lips twisted. She walked up to the goblins and peered inside their pillowcase. The bag was stuffed with candy as well as several twigs, a large plastic spider, half of a fake moustache, and what looked like the remains of a cheese platter.
Sarah grinned. "They're doing better than we are."
Jareth's eyes narrowed. "That is completely unacceptable."
Sarah laughed and turned back to the goblins. "This isn't treasure, it's candy. You're supposed to eat it."
The goblins looked dubiously at the items in the pillowcase. One pulled out the plastic spider and took a large bite, chewing methodically.
"Not bad!" the goblin said, pleased. He then proceeded to cough up one of the legs.
Sarah grimaced. "That's enough of that," she said, pulling away the remains of the spider. She handed him a candy bar.
"Try this instead," she said helpfully.
The goblin popped the whole bar in his mouth, wrapper and all.
"Mmm, it tastes nutty and plastic-y all at once," he said approvingly, rubbing his small stomach.
Another goblin nibbled on the fake mustache. "It's an acquired taste, isn't it? It reminds me a little of smoked rodent."
Jareth pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Home," he commanded.
"But…," the goblins wheedled.
"Or there's always the bog..." Jareth said in a frighteningly pleasant voice.
"What's the third option?" asked the goblin who was still chewing on the wrapped candy bar.
The goblins looked at each other. "I think we'll go home," said the goblin eating the mustache.
Jareth crossed his arms. "What an uncharacteristically intelligent choice! I'd be even more impressed if his head wasn't about to burst into flame," he said pointing to the pumpkin-hatted goblin whose jack-o-lantern was starting to scorch. The goblin patted it happily.
Jareth sighed. "Home," he said sternly.
"Okay, bye," they said, waving reluctantly. With a small popping sound, the goblins and their pillowcase of assorted horrors disappeared.
"Is it too much to ask to have a bloody night off once in a while?" Jareth muttered to himself.
Sarah patted his arm consolingly. Shaking his head, the King led Sarah toward a bench and they sat down. A small boy dressed as the devil ran past, clutching one of his horns in his hand; the other was twisted at a rather odd angle on his head.
"Mom!" he yelled. "My horns are loose!"
Jareth tsked. "Oh how the mighty have fallen," he said sardonically. "All hail the Dark Lord!" he called after the boy.
"I'm not even going to ask," Sarah said, riffling through her candy.
"It's probably best," Jareth agreed, spinning one of his apples from hand to hand.
"Sarah! Sarah! Over here!"
Sarah looked up and saw Claire, one of her neighbors, waving at her from across the street. She turned to Jareth. "Stay here, I just have to talk to a friend for a moment. I'll be right back, ok?"
"Very well," he said, crossing one black booted ankle over the other.
She put her trick-or-treat bag down next to him on the bench. "And don't take any of my candy!"
Jareth attempted to look innocent. "Really Sarah, would I…" he stopped when he saw her expression and shrugged. "Things typically taste better when they have been pilfered from others."
She shook her finger warningly at him and then went to join her neighbor. Claire, dressed as a rather pregnant hippie, gave her a warm hug.
"Wow!" said Claire, looking at Sarah from head to toe. "You really went all out! Check out your costume!"
Sarah shrugged, not even bothering to look down at her outfit. "It's just an old thing that I had hidden away on top of my closet."
Claire gave her an odd look that Sarah didn't see—she was too busy keeping an eye on Jareth. While she and Claire talked about Claire's pregnancy and Sarah's new job, Sarah watched as one-by-one, children began to walk toward the Goblin King. They appeared to be drawn to him like moths to a slightly sinister flame, flocking around him as if he were some kind of riding-crop-wielding, stray-goblin-kicking, dubious-hairstyle-sporting, Halloween version of Santa Claus. They pulled on his cloak or took his gloved hand, shyly showing him their costumes and telling him all about the treats they had collected.
Sarah noticed that Jareth was completely in his element, regally bestowing his attention on the small crowd of assorted ghouls and beasties and laughing at their antics. At one point, she looked up to see Jareth and the children performing a song-and-dance number that involved the odd levitating child and a lot of strutting by the King, much to the appreciation of the women who were walking past. She was a little concerned when Jareth pulled out the crystals, but relaxed when it became apparent that he was only juggling them for the children's amusement and not promising to swap them for any spare siblings that they may have lying around.
After a while, Sarah said goodbye to Claire and walked toward Jareth's little court. She stood on the fringes as Jareth and a small vampire compared their fangs.
"Mine are longer," the boy said triumphantly, pulling out his plastic teeth and holding them up near Jareth's mouth, just to make sure.
Jareth tapped his own impressively pointy teeth. "Yes, but mine are forever."
"Hmm, I guess so," the boy conceded rather wistfully. He popped his teeth back in and playfully bit the werewolf standing beside him.
"Oww! You're pointy!" the werewolf cried.
"Agh! You're hairy!" the vampire squealed.
Jareth and the rest of the children laughed as the vampire valiantly tried to spit stray bits of fluff from his mouth.
Jareth held up his hand for silence. "The moral of that little episode, my fine fellows, is not to lick or bite furry beasts of any form." He paused. "Unless they lick or bite you first."
The kids nodded solemnly at that bit of wisdom. Sarah tried very hard not to smile.
"Now," said Jareth, turning to a boy next to him. "What are you dressed as?" He looked curiously at the large pieces of green styrofoam that had been stapled over the boy's green shirt and pants. "Are you supposed to be some kind of disease?"
"I'm not a disease!" the child said indignantly. "I'm the Hulk!" He began to growl menacingly while striking muscleman poses.
Jareth tapped his finger against his lips. "I could use a Hulk," he said thoughtfully.
"Really?" asked the boy. He growled a little more for good measure.
Sarah suppressed a smile. "You don't need a Hulk. You have goblins, false alarms, fieries, helping hands, biting fairies, and Ludo."
Jareth waved his hand dismissively. "One could always find room for a Hulk."
The boy beamed and growled a little more.
Sarah shook her head and held out her hand. "Come on, your Majesty, let's go before you start recruiting."
They waved goodbye to the children and continued to walk down the street, pausing to watch a rather feisty Snow White gleefully smack down a small Jedi Knight who had tried to steal her candy. Before long, they found themselves face-to-face with the boy dressed as a pineapple. Close up, Sarah could see that his costume was rather well made, with lots of wicked pineapple-like spikes jutting out all around the spongy orange material. The Pineapple Boy was holding the hand of a very small girl dressed as a ladybug who was obviously his sister.
The Pineapple Boy took one look at Jareth's outfit and whistled. "Wow! Awesome costume. Who are you supposed to be?"
Jareth placed his hands on his hips and strutted a little for the boy's benefit. "I am the Goblin King."
The Pineapple Boy nodded, impressed. "I like your armor."
"I'm rather fond of it myself."
The Pineapple Boy turned to Sarah. "Are you supposed to be a princess?"
The tiny ladybug pulled on his arm. "No silly! She is not a princess, she is his Queen."
Sarah blushed and opened her mouth to deny it, but Jareth smiled broadly and bent down to look at the child eye-to-eye.
"My, my, aren't you a clever little girl? Here, have an appendage," he said, handing the tiny ladybug a Butterfinger.
"Thank you, Mr King!" she said in a sing-song voice.
Jareth stood up and looked over at the Pineapple Boy. He tapped his finger against his chin a moment and then handed him a candy bar too.
The Pineapple Boy smiled. "Thanks!"
Jareth leaned a little closer to the Pineapple Boy. "May I ask—why a pineapple? It really isn't a particularly masculine fruit."
The Pineapple Boy smirked. "I told my Mom that I liked pineapples. But honestly, I chose it because the skin is spiky."
As he spoke, a girl dressed as Wonder Woman bumped into him.
"Owww!!!" she yelled, clutching her arm.
"See!" the Pineapple boy said gleefully, putting the candy bar into his bag.
Jareth gave the boy an admiring glance. "Truly diabolical."
The King and the Pineapple Boy shared a knowing look. Sarah shook her head and, waving goodbye to the children, led Jareth away.
"I do believe that boy is a kindred spirit," Jareth said thoughtfully.
Sarah nodded. "Which is why I am taking you away right now—I'm worried about what you two could accomplish if you ever decided to team up."
Jareth laughed and placed Sarah's hand on his arm. "This has been rather delightful."
"Better than goblin orgies?" she asked mischievously.
Jareth groaned. "Please Sarah, I just ate a Buttertoe," he said, placing his hand over his stomach.
"Whatever." They walked a little further to the top of the street where the houses ended and shops began. "Perhaps I could institute a form of trick-or-treating in the Goblin Kingdom next Halloween," Jareth mused. "It would stop them from doing it up here and creating some catastrophe of moronic proportions."
Sarah thought about that. "What would the goblins dress up as? Children?"
He smirked. "Perhaps. No doubt they would completely misunderstand the entire concept. Start calling it 'trick-or-chicken', or some such thing."
Sarah visualized drunk goblin hordes going from door-to-door asking for chickens. She grimaced. "What happens if they don't get their chickens? You'd have an entire night of tricking. It might lead to more casualties than the naked bonfire dancing."
Jareth blinked. "I don't know whether to be excited by that thought or completely horrified. Probably an unholy combination of the two." Jareth stopped when they reached the end of the street. "Would you like to go home now, Sarah?"
But Sarah wasn't listening. She was staring at her reflection in the window of a shop. Mesmerized, she reached up and touched her hair; where there had been a coronet of crushed silk flowers there was now a crown wrought of silver and stars. She let her fingers trail down to her dress; where there had been an old costume, tight and a somewhat wrinkled, there was now a gown of heavy silk, spun with gems and gold. As she watched, the King appeared behind her; he bowed his wild golden head in tribute to her beauty and lifted her hand, brushing a warm kiss against her inner wrist.
"Have I been dressed like this all night?" she asked. But she already knew the answer.
Jareth smiled a rather predatory smile. He dipped his head toward her, his lips grazing her earlobe in a decidedly adult way.
Say your right words, Sarah thought, on the edge of the precipice all over again.
Jareth's gloved fingers began to caress the long, pale column of her throat and Sarah's heart threatened to break-free of her ribcage.
"She is not a princess," he said, his breath warm against her ear. "She is his Queen."
And Sarah fell.
Jareth's lips tasted the soft skin behind her ear, and then his tongue found a place on her neck that made her close her eyes and arch just so. And Sarah moaned because it was just that exquisite.
Still, she thought she should make some kind of token resistance.
"Is that so?" she asked, in a rather queenly manner.
But when she saw the look in his eyes—a look of overwhelming, hard-won joy and just a hint of happy-ever-afters—she ruined her queenly façade by smiling at him and reaching up to smooth the harsh angles of his cheekbones and the tense line of his jaw.
"Of course, precious thing," he practically purred, so obviously undone by her attentions. He tilted his head, the breeze tossing the strands of his wild blonde hair over his shoulder. "Did you ever doubt it?"
And the odd thing was that she never had, though the waiting really had become tiresome. About that…
"It took you long enough," she said pointedly.
Jareth gave her a rather sardonic look. "Would you have allowed me to ravish you the first time that you found me sitting on 'The Chair'?"
And suddenly she understood. It had been the ballroom all over again; she had chased him until he had caught her. Though this time, there wasn't any reason to grab a chair and make a break for it. The thought made her irrationally happy.
Sarah shook her head and grinned. "No, I wouldn't have. But that doesn't mean that I'm not amenable to the idea now."
Jareth seemed to growl a little at that comment and the sound triggered a tingly, shivery, warm feeling along every nerve-ending in Sarah's body. Not wanting to lose another second, she turned and threw her arms around Jareth's shoulders. But when she attempted to move closer, she encountered an obstruction.
"Ahh," she said, looking down at his chest, "your costume really isn't helping the romance here."
Jareth looked down at his chest distastefully. "I agree. Armor isn't particularly conducive to amorous activities."
Sarah suddenly felt the armor give, and she was soon pulled tight against a hard chest clad in something very soft.
"This is much more conducive to amorous activities," she said happily, letting her fingers roam over the warm skin of his throat, slipping downward to trace his pendant.
Jareth closed his eyes and sighed blissfully as Sarah's fingers wandered over the smooth planes of his chest. "Nudity would have been even more conducive, but I had to think of the children."
"Ahh yes. The children. We wouldn't want to scare them on Halloween," she said sardonically.
Jareth laughed and opened his eyes. "My Sarah," he said huskily and began to scatter warm kisses over her cheeks, her jaw, the curve of her throat.
Sarah arched back and looked up at the stars. She wanted to simply melt into his caresses but there was something that she had to clarify. She cleared her throat.
"I suppose you have to go back to the Underground to make an appearance at your own Halloween celebrations?
He pulled away, shocked. "What? Are you sending me away Sarah? You would have me join the dancing and the drinking and the orgies?"
"Jareth," she said cupping his face in her hands. "If I though that there was even a possibility that you would be going to one of those things tonight, I would never have let you get this close to me," she said meaningfully.
"Damn," he muttered. "You already know me too well. I'm not sure if I approve."
Sarah stroked his cheek. "I'd push you into the bonfire myself before I'd let you dance around naked with other women." She smiled sweetly.
"Be still my heart," he said dryly. "What a charming declaration of love! I shall treasure it always." But despite his tone, he looked inordinately pleased.
Sarah embraced the King, standing on tip toes until her lips were near his ear. "Perhaps we could start a new Halloween tradition? Something between us? I am willing to compromise," she whispered.
Jareth shuddered and pulled her closer, so close that she could feel warmth of his chest through her gown. "Let me just say right now that when it comes to our Halloween celebrations, I am willing to compromise on the feasting and the bonfire dancing and the drunken revelry, but I am completely unwilling to compromise on the debauchery. The debauchery stays. In fact, I suggest that we introduce more debauchery."
Sarah was inclined to agree. And when Jareth saw the answer in her eyes, he almost crowed with triumph. Instead, he bent and kissed her—a wild brush of his lips against hers that had her fisting her hands into the silk of his hair and pulling him closer, deeper, within her. Everything his eyes had promised, his kiss delivered, dragging a response from her that was so fierce, so elemental, that she feared that she would physically hurt him if he tried to stop kissing her. Her fervent response only spurred Jareth on; he lifted her easily and crushed her against his body so that she was almost fused to his form; she could feel his heartbeat against her own chest; his low growl of pleasure seemed to vibrate through her very cells.
When they were finally forced to end the kiss, Sarah felt his loss like a physical blow, but he soothed her with soft caresses and small kisses to the corners of her mouth.
"I will give you many treats this evening, precious, precious thing," he promised huskily. "Anything. Everything. Yours."
Sarah smiled a hazy, love-drunk smile at his words. She thought his promise was only fair; after all, he still owed her for taking the last cookie. But before she could reply, Jareth, looking wild and heartbreakingly joyous, took her hand and swept her into a frenzied waltz along the deserted street.
The Pineapple Boy and the tiny ladybug watched the royal couple dance as if they were in a ballroom made of crystal rather than a street littered with wrappers and leaves. And then, in the space of an eye-blink, the laughing couple disappeared, leaving only a trail of glitter which the breeze gathered up and carried off toward the stars.
"Where did they go?" the Pineapple Boy asked, trying to dislodge a ghost, a skeleton, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle who were all stuck to his spikes.
"Home," said the tiny ladybug, smiling.
This story is dedicated to Jack Hawksmoor, even though she kept taunting me with descriptions of her Halloween plans knowing full well that I live in pitiful, Halloween-free Australia. You're a cruel woman, Jack! I sooo like that…
For those pervy few who really want to know, the Ludo hairball incident can be traced back to a sexy Ludo/Roger drabble I wrote for the 'Pet Peeves Forum'. Now THAT was a horror story and Kore-of-Myth was entirely to blame *Lixxle runs off to wash her brain out in bleach*. (Oh! And did you spot the FaeMail homage....?)
Please review! It will be my only solace this Halloween as I sob into my pillow, lamenting my country's failure to adopt cool pagan holidays. Damn you, Australia! DAMN YOU!