AN: As you can see I changed it from the chaptered version since this is much easier to update and little bits and peices still want me to keep adding onto this story every now and then. Also since the results of the poll say both version of this are good I'm keeping them both up, thanks to all who took the poll.
P.S.: I had to change the titles of which books Sarah was reading in the beginning in the story since I had gotten the dates wrong before, and the books listed now had actually been around long enough to be in a box for years before she finds them so that's why I did that. I kept the same authors though as they are three of my favorite 80's era historical romance authors.
Disclaimer: I do not own Labyrinth or any of the characters therein. The movie would have ended differently if I had. But you know, we all say that, but if the story had gone the way we wanted it to there would be no reason to write fanfic like this where things turn out differently, now would there?
Longer Than Forever –
Chapter One –
Sarah Williams stretched as she turned the TV, as she had been channel surfing in hopes of finding something decent to watch, off suddenly. If she really wanted to she could watch the episode of Good Eats that was playing on the Food Network, but she had already seen that one three times and didn't feel like making it an even four right now. Because you could only listen to Alton Brown spout random facts about honey for so long before you didn't care anymore that Alexander the Great was embalmed with the stuff. So, instead she picked up the fantasy romance anthology she had bought when she had stocked up at the local Wal-Mart before coming up to her cabin in the mountains. Sarah, a far less dramatic twenty-five years of age at this point in time, had never lost her love of all things magical no matter how much she had matured over the years since those dramatic ten hours in a place most people only knew from song and story. But she was one of the lucky few that knew the truth and knew she would never and could never go back to the person she was before she had said her 'right words' ten years ago.
After returning from the Underground and the strange party-like gathering of some of the Labyrinth's inhabitants that night in her bedroom, Sarah had tried to forget all about magic and everything fantastical. But the problem with that plan was that it was very hard to try and pretend magic didn't exist when she could talk to her friends whenever she wanted through her mirror. And as a consequence of being aware that those magical forces were out there, she could now see things in this world that she hadn't before where the fantastical spilled over. Things like the fact that she knew that when someone's cat looked like it was chasing nothing, it was actually chasing a brownie or pixie. Or that there may not have been the imagined monster in the closet that the child imagined there was, but there was most likely a couple goblins sleeping under the dirty clothes at the bottom. After a year of trying to ignore it all for fear of accidentally bringing a certain royal Fae's wrath down upon her inadvertently, even going to the lengths of not calling on her friends, she couldn't take it anymore. One look at a certain bookend or a certain poster on her wall and she cracked. She had missed her friends and felt horrible for not answering their calls.
From that point on she had begun to see this 'sight' she had gained since her trip below as more of a blessing than a curse. It also helped that by that time she had realized how ridiculous and immature she had been before. How selfish she had become from living in the delusion that she was better than Toby in some way when he was just a baby, for crying out loud, and didn't know any better. It was the equivalent of yelling at a puppy for barking; it just didn't make sense to a rational person. That was the year, the year she turned seventeen that she had learned several truths about what she had assumed were facts about her life as well. She learned the truth that her mother hadn't left her dad because she thought he didn't love her anymore and was holding back her career. Her mother had left her father for her co-star at the time; a man named David that Sarah had actually thought was pretty cool at the time that she had been cheating on her father with.
Realizing that the woman that raised you had left you and your father for another man and a, rather unimpressive actually, stage career and Hollywood dreams is rather stunning to someone so young. Ever since she had discovered the truth about the situation Sarah had been much more understanding of her father and his choices in life. It made her laugh bitterly to think that she had always referred to Karen in her head before that time as "the other woman." It was horribly ironic, don't you think? After realizing that things were not always what they seemed in this world as well made Sarah start to reflect on her time in the Underground. Sarah hadn't needed much time to realize that her memories of the labyrinth and everything that had happened to her there had been skewed from the beginning as they had been made while she was still in the mindset that it was all about her.
She was sad to realize that even from the beginning the main reason she had followed Jareth to his kingdom to find Toby was fear of getting in trouble should her father and Karen return home and find him missing. Sarah had been worried for Toby's safety as well, of course, but only realized later how much of a secondary motive it was in prompting her to go after him. At least her time there had accomplished something in the end though. It had brought her closer to her little brother and she had enjoyed watching him grow up over the years with a fondness that hadn't really been there before she had to rescue him from 'dangers untold and hardships unnumbered' ten years ago.
When her fantasies involving Jareth had started shortly before turning seventeen, she had thought it was some kind of trick. Like it was him taunting her a year later in a way that was so much more embarrassing than anything the labyrinth had to offer. But she hadn't seen or heard him anywhere and her friends didn't even talk about him for she knew they didn't exactly like him either for their views on what he had done to her during her running of the Labyrinth. There had been no barn owls in sight either and it was all very strange to her. The beginning of the chain reaction that led to her eventual fantasies involving a certain Fae had started when she had found a box of her mom's old stuff in a corner of the attic. She had been curious, since she still loved her mother, she was just hurt and didn't agree with her mother's choices in life, obviously, and rifled through it to see it there was anything cool or interesting lurking inside.
Inside the box she had been surprised to find a couple summer dresses she had vague memories of her mom wearing long ago, a small porcelain knick-knack in the shape of a cat, a few scented candles, and a bunch of books. Excited to find such an interesting haul she had carried it to her room to go over further. She had put the porcelain cat and the candles on her night stand and left the dresses in the box. It just seemed too weird a thought to actually try the dresses on. And even if she found one of them cute she didn't want to have to deal with the eventual reaction that would come if her dad realized why they looked so familiar. The books she took out to look over as she had always been a major bibliophile and was interested to learn what type of books her mom had read while she still was living here.
There were six books. One was a book by Shirley McClain, called Don't Fall Off The Mountain, which talked about spiritual stuff that seemed a complete waste of time and dead boring to Sarah so it had gotten tossed back into the box. Two of them were copies of books that her mother had been in stage adaptations of when she was still acting on a local level; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Those got thrown into the box again as well since Sarah had seen the plays and knew that she wasn't interested in reading longer versions of either story at the moment. Two of the books were titles that Sarah herself already had her own copies of in her own personal library; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. But since they were older copies and Sarah usually went through several copies of books she liked as she usually reread them so much they eventually fell apart. She placed those on the small bookshelf by her dresser to be organized later.
The last book was the most surprising and the only one that Sarah had never heard of the book or the author, so naturally it piqued her curiosity. The book was called The Wolf and The Dove by an author named Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. It was a rather thick book and the picture on the inside cover really made her even more curious about it. It showed a red-haired man holding a dark-haired woman in front of him as they rode on a horse. It looked as if he were carrying her away from something; perhaps the castle in the background, and it intrigued her. When Sarah began reading it she was sucked into the interesting story about Norman man raiding the Saxon home of the woman that was obviously the books' heroine. It wasn't long though before the story morphed into something that made her recently discovered sexuality come to the forefront of her mind and made her blush so brightly that she could feel the heat in her coming off of her skin without really trying to. Once the book continued down that direction Sarah had dropped it like a hot potato and left it on the table beside her bed as her teenage brain was too shocked to do anything more than that.
But, no surprise, two days later and curious about what would happen next and how the story would eventually be resolved, she picked it up and devoured the next almost three hundred pages in mere hours. Feeling scandalized about the graphic nature of the books' mature content she, like any other hormonal teenager would, had wondered if Kathleen E. Woodiwiss had written any other books and how should could get her hands on them. Over the next few months Sarah started to devour every book she could find by the author and after reading both A Rose In Winter and Come Love a Stranger in one weekend, the last books the local library had by Ms. Woodiwiss, she wondered if any of the authors mentioned in the advertisements in the back of her books would have anything good either. Within that same year she also started reading books by Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick. Sarah realized that she liked historical romances better after trying to read a modern one and not liking it one bit, but that could have just been a bad book as well. She especially like the ones set in Regency or Victorian England for to her it was like reading naughty versions of a Jane Austen classic, she loved it.
She wasn't very surprised when she started having dreams about certain scenes she had read in the books she had recently read. It wasn't like she had never had sex dreams before, but these were much more graphic than her previous ones as the books pretty much spelled everything out as to leave no room for doubt as to what was going on during those scenes. The hero of the book was usually the one starring opposite her. Though at times certain movie and TV stars would sometimes pop into their places, but that wasn't very surprising to Sarah as she had celebrity crushes like most teenage girls. What did surprise the hell out of her was when one night during a dream of a familiar scene from a recent book she had read set during the 'wild west' started; instead of the dark-haired cowboy that was supposed to rush in and save her from being raped by a crazy ex-employee of her father's ranch, it was one certain silver and gold locked Fae with mismatched eyes saving her. And instead of the gun or shovel that the cowboy usually hit the would-be rapist with to knock him out; he had thrown a familiar looking crystal at the man before the offender had completely disappeared. After that the scene had progressed as usual, eventually seeing her and her savior fooling around on her bed, but even in her sleep she realized that she felt much safer in these arms than the usual stars. Sarah had woken from that dream thrilled and confused at the same time. Thrilled because that had been the hottest dream yet and confused as to why or how the Goblin King had suddenly become the man of her dreams.
Over the days, months, and years since returning home from the Underground, Sarah realized that she had always been attracted to Jareth, as she referred to him to herself. She just hadn't known what the weird feelings he inspired in her in the pit of her stomach at the sight of him at the time. Now she knew what they meant as the books and even certain real life specimens had caused similar feelings since then. And now she wished she could unknow it for he had been a regular player in her fantasies ever since. Long after the realizations about him actually being right about some of the things he had told her, she had accepted that and that she thankfully would never be that selfish or naïve again. But no matter how much she tried to rationalize it the instant blush always came to her face whenever she thought of him. Whether it was from embarrassment or shame at he of all people being the one to see her at her most selfish, wishing Toby away, or it was the fact that he was just that gorgeous she wasn't and never had been exactly sure.
Sarah continued to call on her friends when she truly needed them throughout the months and then years since returning from the Underground. Each time was different from the party-like atmosphere it had been the night that she had defeated the Goblin King, but each visit still gave her life a little touch of magic that everyone deserves. It was in this state of mind that she started to write about her time in the Underground and about different stories her friends had told her over the years. She figured that others out there deserved the kind of magic that her friends brought her every time they visited; a little something special to counteract the drudgery of reality. At eighteen she had gotten a book of short stories about the Underground and its' inhabitants together in a final draft. Much to her surprise and the surprise of her parents she had found a literary agent and then with her help had found a publisher that wanted to buy her book almost immediately after sending it to her first list of potential publishing houses. She couldn't believe her luck and part of her always thought that perhaps part of the magic of the world she had written about had rubbed off as far as her publishing miracle was concerned. The greater miracle was the fact that not only did she get more money than she had ever dreamed she would from her deal, people actually liked her book and she was a New York Times Bestselling author by the age of nineteen.
Unfortunately, part of her world was torn apart during the few months' right before her nineteenth birthday, though. It felt at the time like someone had told her that she had won the lottery, only to rip the giant check away from her during a live TV broadcast and yell 'just kidding' while laughing hysterically at her. The call had come three months to the day before her birthday. Her mother and her boyfriend David had been sideswiped by a drunk driver, instantly killing all three people involved. Sarah had never been what she would term 'close' to her mother, but she was still the woman that gave her life and a friend over the years so needless to say her death had hit her pretty hard. She still had grief and guilt she hadn't dealt with even all these years later as she regretted the way she had failed at trying to maintain a relationship of the same level with both of her parents even though she knew it was impossible when she lived with one her whole life while the other one lived across the country for most of it. But Sarah still thinks she should have tried just a bit harder in her attempts. She knows though that life can't be all sunshine and rainbows more than most, but when it's an unexpected tragedy like that, nothing can prepare you for it.
Besides the surprise deaths, Sarah's life was improving around her grief and sadness. In selling her first book, the money that she had gotten from her deal and royalties had allowed her to pay for college completely on her own. It had also allowed her to do something much more exciting, in her opinion. It had allowed her to get and be able to maintain her own apartment and car at nineteen as well. She had been wrong about Karen being evil, but even through years of trying and pretending to get along they never really had as the woman was still a serious first class bitch to everyone except Toby, and to a lesser extent Sarah's father. Moving into her apartment that was much closer to the community college she got her associates' degree in English Literature at and still being close enough to see Toby whenever she wanted to was awesome. When her publisher had asked if she had anymore stories about the Underground and he found out the Sarah had notebooks full of different creatures/characters she signed a four book deal within the next year.
Sarah found that the writing was very therapeutic and helped her through the rough patches after her mother's death and the regular ups and downs that everyone had in life. She also called on her friends a lot during those days as she had never really had many human friends in her own world and they were still there for her whenever she needed them. During her worst times the friends from her world that she had thought were close all but disappeared when the going got rough. So Sarah poured everything she had, the good, the bad, and the magical into writing the stories about the goblins, faeries, dwarves, and other Underground inhabitants; those she had met and those she had created from certain memories of both her and her friends' childhoods. And even though it seemed like she might not meet some of her deadlines sometimes, her hard work and persistence usually paid off in spades, miraculously enough. And it did indeed seem like a miracle to Sarah when she could look at the shelf by her desk and see her books lined up in a row looking all professional and beautiful to her amazement.
Chapter Two –
Over the next five years she published the other four books and even four children's story book versions of a couple of the more popular creatures, including Ludo, Hoggle, and Sir Didymus as the publisher didn't want to let her go when her last contract ended. It had been the check from the first two storybooks that had allowed her to put the down payment needed to buy the old cabin. She had loved the old wooden bungalow from first sight and knew it would be the perfect escape from the city. It was situated almost three hundred miles away from the apartment she now owned as well at the ripe old age of twenty-five. She loved going to her cabin, it was her escape from her troubles, and where she didn't have to worry about anything except making two to three meals for herself a day and that was just perfect as far as she was concerned. This current trip to the cabin had been a celebration of sorts. She had just wrapped up her latest book signing tour and was more than ready for a break from the rest of the world. It wasn't that she didn't like living in the bustling city of Portland, but there were times that she just wanted some alone time. Her cabin was the perfect spot for rest and relaxation. She could do whatever she wanted up here. She could play her music as loud as she wanted to, or walk around in her underwear with the curtains open and the only ones that might mind were the raccoons and possums that roamed around the cabin at night looking for any scrap of food.
There was also a hot tub on the deck that was awesome for getting the sore spots out of her muscles that she abused during the days when she didn't feel like just veg-ing out and watching TV or reading. During those more active days she loved to go explore the mountain paths around the property that was attached to the cabin. Sarah had always liked being outside when she had the option of not being trapped indoors. Whether it was hanging out in the park during her 'rehearsals' years ago or taking walks around the neighborhood she lived in while growing up and now. It was time like that that made her want to get another dog. But Merlin's death had hit her hard and she knew she couldn't handle that kind of responsibility right now with the busy schedule she had had recently. Around the cabin there were also the most amazing hiking trails that lead to views of the valley below that made you feel like you were in heaven. Just the smell of the fresh air that high up was so refreshing that Sarah kept climbing higher, feeling invincible. That is, until she had to walk back down the trail she spent all day climbing. That was when the hot tub came in handy and became heaven itself.
Grabbing and trying to get back into her book, Irish Magic, she tried to curb the yawns that kept coming, but failed miserably. She was rereading her favorite story in it so far about an otherworldly prince trying to woo a warrior woman that wasn't having any of it yet when she plopped the book facedown on the arm of the couch moments before she slipped into an exhausted sleep. She liked her comfy couch very much. It was basically the same couch as the one in her apartment in the city, but in a different color and fabric. The cushions were so nice and fluffy she hadn't even needed another pillow to help her fall instantly into dreamland. Of course, with all this luck in her life some of it was bound to be bad eventually. While Sarah slept and dreamt strange dreams involving a tall man with silver-blonde hair and mismatched eyes, the old wiring in her precious cabin decided to go haywire. It wasn't like Sarah had gotten suckered into buying a house with faulty wiring because of her age, for her dad had helped her with all of the scheduling of the official inspections and such. Everything had come up to code. The problem was that she had had this cabin for almost three years and the wiring had been so ancient it barely passed inspection before. This had been an issue that Sarah knew she needed to fix and it was on her to-do list when it came to things she needed to get done or to upkeep at the cabin, but she always forgot about it.
It probably wouldn't have mushroomed into such a huge problem if the light switch in the kitchen that had the short that started the whole mess hadn't been so very close to the curtains on the small kitchen window that looked out to beautiful pine, maple, and cedar trees that dotted the property. The spark hit the old polyester curtains that Sarah had thought looked right at home there since they had been original when she bought the place and the dusty old things went up like a match. The fire spread throughout the room rather quickly as most everything was made of wood and/or cloth of some kind, even the cabin's base structure itself. The placement of the wiring led further back to where the bedroom and adjoining bathroom were on the opposite side of the house from where Sarah was sleeping on the couch. The part of the house that she was in was burning just as quickly, but as if was more filled with more materials besides wood and cloth, it took a little longer. The electronics' plastic and glass, for instance, took awhile for the fire to slowly eat apart. But once they hit the electronics' insides the flames sparked with new life and moved on intent on swallowing the whole building within hours. As Sarah slept the curtains were torched and the bookcases full of her favorite classics and new releases alike went up like so much kindling. The rack of movies burned slowest of all before the flames licked their way toward the television.
Sarah would have no doubt slept through the whole cabin burning down for as the room filled with smoke her sleep should have become deeper as her lungs stopped working as well as they should. Luckily some of that good luck seemed to kick in again as she felt a magical sort of tingle on the inside of her skin and what could have been familiar voices yelling at her to wake up from inside her dream before she woke up with a start. Her gasp of surprise and horror turned into a loud and long hacking cough. Ripping the scarf by her purse off the back of the smoldering couch she used it as a mask to try and breathe through it a little better. Checking for exits as quickly as possible Sarah realized that the fire was all around her and she would have to jump or run through at least a little bit of it to get to any of the windows or doors. She was about to make a run for the front door when a massive 'crack' sound rent in between the sound of crackling flames. All Sarah could do is scream in horror and duck and cover before one of the roof beams cracked completely before falling directly in her path and blocking her escape to anywhere except the other side of the house which seemed to be the most engulfed in flames. Realizing that if another beam falls she is well and truly stuck she tried to make her way through before the worst happens and another beam does fall, blocking her exits on both sides. Hearing glass break as the windows blow out one by one tears start pouring down her cheeks when she realizes she is very much trapped inside what was once her haven. She starts coughing and realizes she has to do something as she'll die of smoke inhalation before she even tries doing anything else to escape the fire itself.
Feeling very dizzy as the smoke filling into her lungs deepens until she's wheezing with every breath and the heat starts to burn parts of her. Sarah's vision wavers and she starts blinking rapidly then, trying to clear her vision of the fog now clouding it. Realizing that those are wasted motions as the fog seemed to be etched across her eyes for now she hit the floor, trying to remember all the fire safety protocol she had had throughout her life. She knew that smoke and heat rose so being as close to the floor was the clearest air she was going to find at the moment. Not seeing any more options at her disposal her tears become sobs as her hope is good and truly disappearing. Then Sarah remembers through the panic that she does always have one more option; an option that even if it had been the day after returning from the Underground would have seemed like a much better fate to her than burning to death in a fire to Sarah. She thinks that if she's going to die anyway she might as well try the only supernatural person she knows for this truly is her last resort.
"Jareth!" she cries as loud as her smoke-filled lungs will allow her, as the direct approach is the only approach her panicked mind shouts at her to try at the moment. "Help me, please!" she screams in a roughened and harsh-sounding whisper. Part of her brain realizes that she has to say the right words but fear of dying had driven rational thought and memory of mostly everything out of her mind. Sobs wrack her soot-covered body when she realizes he's not coming, had most likely forgotten all about her, and there truly is no hope for escape. For, surely she will die here now as the magic that has helped her survive these last years seems to have finally deserted her for good."Perhaps, I was just crazy and it was all a dream after all," she mutters as her vision starts to cloud even more and another wave of dizziness hits her. She collapses on the floor, but tries not to give up completely yet. When she starts coughing up black phlegm it shows her that she's going to die either way as her vision swirls again. "I just wish I could have seen Jareth one more time," she murmurs dejectedly, her tears leaving two slightly cleaner streaks of gray down her soot-blackened face, "But it looks like this is the end for me after all." She hears the last of the windows shatter seconds before her vision swims dizzily a final time and then the world goes black.
Chapter Three –
In an obvious panic, a white barn owl that was the actual cause of the broken window Sarah heard before she blacked out streams into the chaos filled cabin. As he takes in the prone figure lying facedown amidst the ever-approaching flames, the barn owl becomes the Goblin King in a flash of magic and power. Realizing he had to act fast, Jareth gathers Sarah into his arms and was about to use his magic to get them the hell out of there when bits of boards that would have at one time been known as the rafters decides to fall exactly where he was standing. He instinctively sheltered the precious cargo in his arms lest larger pieces fall. It turns out he was right to do so as the last roof beam in its' entirety gave way at that exact moment. He let it fall, as such simple elements of wood and fire couldn't hurt a magical being like him in any way. What Jareth did not count on however, were the flecks of metal flaking off of the old fashioned hammered iron tacks that had helped hold the roof beams in place for so many years. The flecks that had come off the wood fell down rather innocuously compared to the loud crashes and great sizzling and roaring the fire itself was making. He didn't even sense or hear it falling amidst the chaos. He most certainly felt it though, unfortunately, when it first sliced easily through the surface before burning and then embedding themselves deeper in his iron-sensitive Fae skin. He yowled in pain loudly before finally being clear enough to pop them magically out of the damn cabin.
Cursing, Jareth reflexively tightened his grip on Sarah as they materialized in her living room two hundred and seventy-five miles north of her vacation cabin. Thanking Danu that Sarah was alive and that he hadn't been too late to save her. He was also extremely relieved that she lived alone for dealing with a hysterical roommate was something he didn't have the patience for at the moment. Jareth lay her gently on the couch before the pain from the iron flakes sticking out of his back caused him to cry out in pain once more. Sarah seemed to hear the animalistic sound for her whole body jumped when he made it. He knew he was sure to make it again and other similar sounds before the flakes were removed from his flesh. It was ironic and very representative of their relationship; if you could call pining, watching her from afar through his crystals and while in his owl form, and moping after her all these years a relationship. That, while saving her from certain death he was injured in a way that could mean the very same thing for him if the iron is not removed from his flesh before it poisoned his blood.
Jareth noticed that Sarah was breathing much more steadily now that she was away from the smoke, but she was still wheezing now and then. He had removed the worst of the gunk from her lungs as he had brought them here, but her lungs and throat would still react to the previous invaders and heal from it in their own time. She had to have had at least mild smoke inhalation and you can't get off Scott free with something that serious. He needed to wake her so she could clear the rest of the smoke from her lungs as he had a feeling his magic didn't reach all of it. As his magic was unfortunately somewhat limited with the iron hampering his naturally magical system, he couldn't help her as much as he would wish to at the moment. There was also the small matter that he needed her to help him get the iron out of his back, for he couldn't touch it himself, it would only burn his fingers as well. He only wished that once she found him in the same room with her once more that she could overcome her distaste of his presence long enough to help him. Or perhaps he should just leave now and rid both worlds of his presence since it was such a cold place for him now that he knew exactly what he was missing.
Jareth knelt beside Sarah as she lay on the couch and couldn't help but touch her brow and cheek. He noticed the soot on his gloves' fingers with a self-deprecating frown and used a bit of magic to make it disappear as if it never was with a simple thought. He almost felt like doing it again and leaving the soot there for all to see. Finally he would have a mark of some kind that showed all that ever saw that she had marked him and touched him deeply whether she knew so or not. Not being able to resist touching her again when he had such an opportunity to do so without any chance of being rebuffed, he caressed her cheek and brow again. He noticed that it wasn't just her face covered in soot, her whole body, every inch of exposed skin, was covered with the stuff. Except, of course, for two trails where her tears had rolled down her cheeks. It was a heart-breaking reminder that he had almost lost her before he even really had her. It had been much, much too close for his liking and if he didn't die himself from iron poisoning, he laughed bitterly to himself, then he vowed that would never happen again. He would try again to get her to see what he had offered her ten years ago, and how much more he felt for her now. It was one thing to love the girl she had been, but loving the woman she was now would truly mean so much more. Yes, he decided then, he would do all within his power to win this beautiful woman's heart. And that description was more than true. She had grown into a gorgeous woman who even now with soot covered skin and tangled mess of hair still completely took his breath away. Sighing, he felt her brow again, just to touch her again really, for he was sure she didn't have any fever other than one that someone would get from being inside a burning building.
"Sarah, Precious," he called to her in what he hoped was a soothing tone, but the pain was beginning to worsen by the minute. Ironically enough, the last time he had felt pain anywhere near this strength was when his world had fallen to pieces at his feet as she walked away from the Underground and him without ever looking back. "Sarah, Precious, wake up," he repeated. She stirred slightly and his heart soared knowing she was going to be okay. That he had indeed made it in time to save her.
It had been the most frustrating experience of his life, the most frightening as well. To have to watch the woman he loved smother to death inside a burning building all because of some stupid rule the High Court had made long ago about different boundaries between worlds and needing to be summoned by the right words. He was about a split second away from saying to hell with the ancient law and storming into that cabin whether she asked him to come in the right words or not. Hearing her call his name with what could have been her last breath was a sound and a sight that he knew he would never be able to erase from his mind. When she had finally said 'I wish' he had finally gotten the go ahead to go into the human world and try and save her before it was too late. He didn't even want to think about what would have happened if she had passed out before saying those needed words. He no doubt would have gone anyway and had hell to pay with the High Court, but at this moment he really didn't care. She stirred again and he leaned over more so she would be sure to see him first thing when she opened her eyes.
"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," he whispered in her ear then and smiled when her eyes started fluttering prettily as she were the aforementioned princess. He wondered idly what would have happened if he had actually kissed her like the prince in that same faery tale, but pushed those far too appealing thoughts away before he could do something stupid like act of them. When the flutters of her eyelids stopped he could tell that it was taking her a few moments to focus and realize her eyes were open, for they were all bloodshot and probably sore from the smoke-filled state of the room when he had found her and blistering heat of the fire.
It took Sarah several tries to keep her eyes open for though she wasn't tired, her eyes themselves felt scratched and hurt. Making them stay open was only half the battle she realized as it took just as long for her eyes to focus on her surroundings and recognize that her eyes were open and what she was seeing was no longer the backs of her eyelids. When she finally recognized exactly what she was seeing, and exactly what was there for her to see, her eyes widened in shock and that did hurt quite a bit.
"Jareth?" she questioned quietly with surprise and wonder clear in her voice. It seemed to her that that was the Goblin King's face bent over her own, worry creasing his otherwise smooth brow, but it was definitely hard for her to believe. Especially since the face itself seemed familiar, but there were also changes in his appearance that made her question what she was seeing more than was her natural inclination to do so. It was then that the smell of burning wood and smoke made itself known to her one more when she tried to take a stuttered deep breath in. "Fire! The cabin!" she murmured excitedly as she sat up suddenly. It turned out it was a little too suddenly. The world spun quickly around her several times and when the step she had taken to try and propel herself to stand up completely faltered, she began to fall quickly toward the carpeted floor. A strong arm caught her around the waist and when she opened her eyes she found herself looking once more into the Goblin King's bicolored gaze.
"Easy," he said softly, the warmth of his breath tickling across her mouth. That was when she did the most useless thing imaginable. She blushed. She couldn't seem to help herself, for she might be an adult starting the second half of her twenties, but she had never been this close to a man before, except when this same man had held her in his arms while they danced in the crystal ballroom. And this wasn't just any man. This was Jareth, the Goblin King, a person that had figured heavily in her fantasies since shortly after her time in the Underground. She looked away embarrassed and ashamed to be thinking and feeling these things when he, no doubt, hated her guts. After all, they hadn't parted company on the best of terms ten years ago, to put it mildly. When Sarah's eyes looked away desperate to see anything but him she froze. This was her living room of her apartment in the city, she realized. She was so stunned that she let Jareth sit her back down on the couch before leaning her back against the cushions. She just let her eyes wander around the familiar room, trying to convince herself that what had happened had really happened.
"You saved me?" she questioned then, her voice so quiet she could barely understand the words herself.
"Of course, Sarah," he told her and the familiar smug arrogance in his tone strangely comforted her and she smiled softly up at him as he spoke. "I couldn't just let you die when I was perfectly capable to save you."
"But why did you bother?" she asked him then, trying to understand what his motives were and why he hadn't just dropped her here and left already. Her wild imagination working itself into corners trying to think about what exactly Jareth could do to work the situation into something resembling the past in any way. "We didn't exactly part company on the best terms. It seems you'd have every reason to want to see me suffer." She gave a short self-deprecating laugh, but it must have dislodged something in her lungs for it turned into a fit of very unattractive sounding coughs. "It's been so long," she muttered under her breath when the coughing fit ended finally, "I was sure that you had forgotten about me by now." She tried to keep the disappointment and regret out of her voice as she was busy pretending her dirty and stinky clothes were interesting. While she was looking anywhere, but directly at any part of him, she missed the expression of shock on his face and look of surprise in his eyes.
"I doubt I'll ever forget you, Sarah," he told her then and she looked up at him amazed by the sincerity she could hear in his voice. "I also wanted to…" he began, but it was cut short by another not-quite-human growl of pain. He sat on a club chair across from the couch then and tried to get his body's reactions under control, but under the circumstances it wasn't working. He sighed then and looked back at her beautiful face, trying to take strength from being in her presence to explain what had happened to her.
Chapter Four –
"What's wrong, Jareth?" Sarah asked as he sat down. It was amazingly good to hear her use his name so freely and hoped she was indeed that much more comfortable with him now as her manner was completely different. The resentment and hate that she had expected of him was what he had expected of her. It seems both of them had been mistaken, at least he hoped so.
"Forgive me," Jareth said then as he could see confusion cloud her beautiful brown eyes. "I know, as you said, we did not part on the best terms," he laughed bitterly at the understatement of the century. "But it seems that I am now the one that requires you to help me," He moaned in pain then and he knew that he didn't have long before it was too late to do anything about the iron trying to poison his system, for it would have done its' deadly job already.
"What do you need me to do?" she asked and he genuinely smiled because there was slight wariness in her tone, as if she was afraid of what exactly he would ask her to do, along with the concern. "Why are you in pain?" she continued when he said nothing.
"When I was getting you out of the cabin," his words stopped more of hers from appearing then. "One of the roof beams fell on us." Sarah gasped at this and he couldn't help but smile slightly again because of her worry was so unexpected and refreshing. "The beam was not the problem," he clarified for her then. "It seems that there were iron tacks holding the beams themselves together and some shards from the bloody stuff fell from the wood as it was breaking apart and is now embedded in my skin." He hissed a breath in pain as he felt it move again.
"Oh, God!" Sarah exclaimed, her love of faery tales and folklore coming in handy in this situation at least. "Iron is poisonous to you, isn't it?" she gasped out the words as if in pain herself.
"Indeed," he said in a tense voice through his gritted teeth. "It will keep embedding itself deeper in my skin until it reaches my bloodstream," he explained, "Unfortunately for me that is something that will kill one of my people." Sarah gasped again upon finding out the worst possible outcome was in fact possible in this situation.
"Why don't you just 'magic' them out of your skin then?" she asked, but she was sure that there was something that prevented him from doing that or he would have done it in the first place. He laughed at the way she had phrased her query.
"The iron stops me from, as you say, 'magic' –ing it out. It also prevents me from returning to the Underground until it is out of my body completely. And I can't take it out myself because it would just burn my fingers as well, even through the gloves," He sighed then sounding very weary suddenly, the pain was taking a lot more out of him that he was allowing himself to show to her. He had already experienced his lowest point with her in his presence; he didn't need to show her any other side of weakness as long as he could help it. "I am at your complete mercy, it seems," he told her ruefully. "If you wish to help me," he continued then in a voice blank of any emotion. "Then we need to be quick before it goes any deeper. If you do not wish to help me, just tell me and I will leave you at once." The way he said this broke Sarah's heart even though there had been no emotion in his voice whatsoever. To think that she had thought that he hated her and he now trusted her with his life. He must truly believe that she hated him as well to give her the option to just let him die. That was incredibly sad to her.
"This is my fault entirely," she told him then, "Besides; I couldn't just let you die like that no matter what happened in the past." She got up from the couch then and walked over to stand by the chair he sat in. "Just tell me what I need to do to help, Jareth, and I will." Her words were almost pleading and he looked at her shocked.
"Thank you," he told her then, "You are much more forgiving than I deserve," he started to take his shirt off then and Sarah had to stifle a gasp. He was a slender man still, but it seemed that he was very muscular as well. Every body part that his shirt revealed showed more defined muscle. His build was almost like that of a swimmer, she saw and couldn't help admiring his form even at a time like this. Especially with the familiar medallion hanging there against his pale skin, the gold and gemstones glinting in the dim light of the table lamps. The leather gloves looked strange without his shirt on, but they were such a part of him as the medallion that it would have been even stranger to see him without them.
"The flecks are in my back," he told her in a tight voice. He noticed how her eyes had roamed over his chest and stomach and was amazed and delighted in a very different way that her helping him has inspired such looks. Especially when he saw her cheeks heat with a blush and the light of feminine interest within them before she walked behind him when he stood up so she could remove the iron.
"Oh my gosh!" Sarah gasped when she walked around Jareth to find the wounds on his back. She didn't know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn't this. Instead of sliver-like protrusions of the metal shards that would have happened if these wounds had happened to a human, Jareth's back looked much, much different. There seemed to be four quarter-sized burns on his back that have darker centers that she assumed was the metal, but it was already mostly under his skin and sinking further by the second. The burns seemed to be growing as well and branching out in vein-like extensions that really worried her.
"Just tell me what to do," she all but begged him then and was glad she was hidden from his view since she was still blushing from being this close to a half-naked Jareth. Even though his back was injured, it was still very attractive as well and Sarah couldn't help to appreciate that this close to him. It was as defined as the front of him and she wanted to reach out and touch him more than she really should. This was a wish that surprised her with it's intensity of the need from which it came from.
"You have to pull the shards out," He told her simply. "Unfortunately you're going to have to break the skin above the wounds to do so." He didn't sound too happy at the prospect and she didn't blame him. But if she needed to do this to help him then she'd do it. She felt a little queasy at the prospect, but another look at his back and she knew she needed to hurry and do it already.
"I don't think I have anything sharp or sterile enough to do the job," she was now worried that he would ask her to use anything she could find and had a horrible mental picture of her trying to do this with a disposable razor from the bathroom of one of her huge kitchen knives. Luckily he had a much better solution.
"Here, use this," he told her and handed back something that looked suspiciously like a surgeon's scalpel.
"Thank you," she breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay," she spoke again trying to pump herself up to actually cut this gorgeous and magical man. "I'm sorry this will most definitely sting, but these wounds are nasty-looking so here goes," she breathed out in a rush nervously. "I'm starting now," she spoke again and Jareth almost burst out laughing at her nervousness, but knew that would really not be a good thing to do right before someone slices your back open with a scalpel. Sarah took another deep breath to steady herself and she couldn't help but take in Jareth's unique scent. It ironically enough reminded her of peaches; peaches and another muskier scent she couldn't really place at the moment. Shaking herself mentally, she placed her hand on the opposite shoulder from the side she was going to cut first. She almost didn't cut him in the right place for he jerked in pain when she touched him. She breathed a quick 'sorry' before continuing.
Starting from the furthest one from her reach she made a cut across what seemed to be the original puncture so she didn't open more wounds than necessary. It was hard to tell with the burn covering it though and the skin in the way between the metal, but either way she just really needed to get the damned iron out of him. Jareth hissed in pain as the blade kissed his skin lightly. She was almost afraid that she would have to cut him again for it didn't bleed right away like her skin did, but then a line of blood appeared and started to gush out of the wound and through it she could see the metal shard sticking up.
"Damn!" Sarah swore when she tried to get a hold of the metal fragment, but couldn't because both it and her fingers were slick with blood. "You don't happen to have a pair of surgical tweezers you could pull out of thin air?" she asked him then instead of seriously saying something like 'I need some damn tweezers or you're blood will be poisoned by the time I can get this first one out.' She hated this part worse than the cutting part for every failed attempt she made to pull it out he made pained noises every time she touched it or his skin. No sooner had she asked him that than he passed back a pair of surgical tweezers. "Thank you," she told him very gratefully. After that it only took one try for her to eject the offending metal from his skin. Once Sarah breathed a sigh in relief the other three flecks came out much faster and in the end Sarah was proud of herself for trying and actually accomplishing it. Everytime Jareth had made a noise or sucked in a breath in pain it felt like she was feeling it as well. It was not pleasant, to say the least.
Then Sarah watched as the most amazing thing happened. As she watched, the slices that she had made closed up one by one. Then slowly, but still amazingly fast compared to anything the human body could do, the burns shrank from being branched out to the original rectangular shapes of the iron shards themselves before they eventually disappeared completely. At the same time the blood that stained his back and her fingers disappeared and so did the tools she had used. In awe Sarah said nothing, but just kept watching him heal and glanced at the wall clock across from them every now and then in disbelief. When he was completely healed Jareth sighed in contentment and stretched his stiff muscles, stiff from bracing himself and stiff from pain. He was very happy that Sarah seemed to have gotten all of the iron out on the very first tries.
"I guess that means I got it all out," she said in a small voice then, echoing his thoughts. He laughed at the amazement in her voice, the sound vibrating his body to the hand that she still had on his shoulder. She seemed to realize she was still clutching him at the same time for she dropped her hand immediately and blushed again for no good reason. He surprised her and ruined her hiding place then by turning around to face her suddenly.
Chapter Five –
"Thank you," he told her then and there was sincerity and another intense emotion in his voice made shivers of pleasure wrack her body surprisingly. She was caught off guard by the suddenness and strength of this strange response, but was able to stop herself before she started to gasp again.
"No problem," she told him, trying to minimize what was happening into terms her brain, which had gotten used to reality in most of the last ten years, could handle at the moment without completely freaking out. "I had to return the favor," she told him with a small smile, still trying to stem the affect he was having on her in this close proximity. It was most definitely not working though. Fortunately or unfortunately, she couldn't tell yet. His mismatched gaze regarded her from his heavy-lidded eyes. That emotion that she still couldn't name shone deeply inside them. It was unlike any of the others she had seen there since she had awoken tonight and any she remembered from ten years ago. The strange glint didn't get her hackles up or cause her any sudden fear and those had been her foremost responses last time she had been around him; barring the ballroom, of course. Of course, she reminded herself suddenly, you were still just a child then Sarah, and one given to being over dramatic about everything at that. The response spreading through her at the moment at the sight of his bare chest reminded her in a different way that she was definitely not a little girl anymore. She was all woman and he was most decidedly all man, even if he wasn't human.
This close to him her eyes couldn't help taking in the details of his appearance again and the differences there from the last time she had seen him. For one thing his hair was different, but then so was hers, it was a natural happening for both of them. Instead of the choppy 'do that stuck up like feathers, his hair had grown out to fall in layers straight down his back, though it was still the pale gold and silver colors that it was before. He had pulled it over his shoulders when she was working on his back, but now it flowed down his fully healed skin in a glistening wave. Another change that was simple was that he wasn't wearing any make-up. His face was completely clean and still more devilishly handsome than she had remembered. Her memories hadn't done him justice. Another superficial change was the way he was dressed, or had been dressed, she should say. The clothes looked as rich and luxurious as she remembered, but they were more simply cut and there wasn't a piece of lace or glitter to be seen.
There were two things she noticed, though, that were not as easily explained. First of all, his eyes seemed to be a bit more slanted than a human's would ever be. Though he uniquely shaped eyebrows looked the same as before. The combination of those eyebrows and the strange slant of his eyes made him look more exotic and animalistic and somehow more dignified at the same time. The other change was in a similar vein. His ears that had looked rather normal as far as she could remember were now rather pointed and shaped slightly different, more tapered and slightly longer than before. To basically sum it up then, he looked less human and more Fae. She couldn't deny that it obviously suited him more than the guise of humanity. And for some reason she found him even more attractive like this. It probably had something to do with her obsession with fantasy romance novels, she told herself. It certainly didn't hurt her reaction to him any, that was for sure.
"You look different," she told him honestly after taking a step back. Being that close to him was doing things to her body that she didn't want to deal with at the moment. She had had enough to deal with tonight. She didn't need her obvious attraction to this supernatural royal to muddle the situation even more. Especially since she couldn't think straight about anything at the moment, let alone what to do about Him.
"That's because this is the real me," he told her softly, "And not your version of me," There was something in his voice while he said it that almost sounded like regret or resignation, but she could have just imagined that. She wasn't surprised by his response though, over the years since her time Underground she had done a lot of thinking and discovered several answers along with furthering her knowledge of faery and folklore. When she had suddenly decided to grow up, metaphorically speaking, she had noticed as she packed her childhood things away that almost all, if not all of the creatures in the Labyrinth had representations in her toys and favorite books. Be it the stuffed animal that is Sir Didymus' twin or the illustration that reminded her greatly of Ludo. After that revelation she had asked her friends about their lives in more detail and about the Labyrinth trying to discover whether it was a coincidence or whether they had been a part of a greater scheme to get her to give up and leave Toby behind. Their answers told her nothing helpful though and she had been too afraid and embarrassed to even think of going to the source. She had pretty much assumed that He had forgotten her completely until tonight.
"I've always wondered," she started suddenly and randomly since there had been no introduction to the subject of the past, but she needed to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them as it didn't sit well with her given that they had just saved each other's lives within the last hour or so."Is that part of the Underground always customized for the wisher, even the Labyrinth, or if it was just a coincidence? For I never do assume anything anymore." She had said the last part with a chuckle as she smiled up at him shyly. She figured she might as well jump right into the heart of the matter, for it wasn't as if he wouldn't understand exactly what she was referring to. The past had hung like a living thing between them since it could still be called the present, so the awkward silence after the matter at hand was taken care of shouldn't have surprised her she guessed.
"It's a little of both actually," he answered her in the same tone which she had began, "Each 'wisher' as you called them, brings with them their own dreams, fantasies, and perceptions of everything and life in general. All of these affect what exactly they see and perceive when they run the labyrinth." He laughed lightly again. "The Labyrinth is a constant, of course, but as you experienced, it changes itself and it does so to fit the need of each wisher."
"So," she said next, "Someone else might have met Hoggle, for instance, and seen a Tolkien-esque dwarf or a Leprechaun?" she asked somewhat laughingly as she tried to picture her knobby little friend as either of those things, but still very curious of the answer.
"Something like that," Jareth said in a voice that stunned her speechless in the way it gave her a severe feeling of déjà vu from her time in the Underground. She was pretty sure her mouth hung open for awhile, but she couldn't close it for several moments. When he quirked an eyebrow at her the reaction she had was almost as strong, but she just closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. The problem was worse, though, when she opened her eyes and his beautiful face was right there, worry creasing his brow and his eyebrow was still raised, even higher than before.
"Is something troubling you, Sarah?" he asked her softly then, his voice like a caress against her skin that was already rising in temperature as her whole upper body flushed a bright pink. The amusement mixed with his concern just made her blush brighten.
"I'm fine," she literally squeaked out then. She then cleared her throat which caused another fit of coughing. At least it sounds better this time, she thought. "Just had a little déjà vu," she finished telling him then since he still looked like he expected her to say more. Sarah figured she might as well be honest since he was someone that had seen her at her very worst and best for that time of her life, so what could it hurt. She couldn't help smiling a bit when he chuckled at her words then and it seemed to be infectious, like his smile that still had a touch of the signature Jareth smugness in it.
"I see," he said through a chuckle, "What a pity," he said then in The Tone that had caused her to react like this in the first place and it was the weirdest feeling in the world for Sarah to know that he was actually teasing her. The Goblin King was teasing her, it was unbelievable. It seemed both of them had changed more in the last ten years than she had really imagined possible. Or maybe it was just her that had changed and could realize he wasn't just the stereotypical villain that she had painted him ten years ago. But that was something she had realized long ago. Sarah showed him how much she had changed by laughing with him at his words.
"On the contrary," she told him, feeling a need to prove that she wasn't a drama queen anymore, "It reminds me how much I've grown since then." She said the words very quietly and blushed when she realized that her words had been stated in such a way that he could take them differently than she had intended. Her blush deepened when his bi-colored gaze seemed to rake slowly down her body.
"You certainly have," he murmured in a way that aroused more than her curiosity. The way he was looking at her also made her remember what she was wearing. She had fallen asleep on the couch in her pajamas. She was dressed in a pair of black pajama shorts that she tried to never wear around anyone else because they were much shorter than anything she was comfortable wearing in public and a pink tank top with Happy Bunny proclaiming "Even Princesses Can Kick Butt" across her bustline. Her feet were bare and her hair was loose and had become a tangled mass of curls falling just past her hips. Blushing brighter as she looked down at herself she tried to take a cleansing breath and was abruptly reminded if the fire more violently by the smell of smoke coming off of her clothes and her almost black soot-covered skin.
"Oh, no!" she gasped and tried to stop herself before she embarrassed herself further by letting the tears welling up in her eyes fall down her cheeks. "The cabin!" she lamented, reality sinking in around the presence of the Goblin King. "Oh crap, all my cards and driver's license were in my purse, which was in the cabin." She said out loud to no one in particular. "I have no access to my money," she realized, "Not to mention the charred remains of my second home," she added as the tears started rolling down her cheeks when she realized everything that had been at the cabin. "Oh no, my photo albums and scrapbooks," she continued as she started to pace around the room. "Okay, I can handle this," she told herself aloud then, "I'll just figure out how to make new ones...Maybe Dad has copies of those photos because I got all of Mom's when she died,"
Sarah was babbling now and Jareth watched her fascinated. Hearing that her mother had died also made him sad for her and curious at the same time. Sarah had definitely changed, he confirmed. The girl she had been would have been whining about the unfairness of it all instead of trying to handle and deal with the upsetting circumstances in a logical way. It also made his attraction to her grow, if possible, realizing that she was a woman now in more than just appearance.
Chapter Six –
"What time is it?" She asked suddenly, "Perhaps I can still call the insurance company." Sarah looked at the clock hanging on the wall across from her and Jareth saw her shoulders slump as her silent tears kept falling. It was almost like he could feel her pain as his own. "I guess not then," She continued in a more dejected tone, "It's probably not a good idea anyway since it's going to be hard to try and explain to the authorities how I was in a fire that was almost three-hundred miles away." She laughed then as she spoke next. "They'll think I'm nuts most likely," she laughed again, "Oh dear," she said in a sudden serious tone, "I hope no one saw the fire and came to help. With my car there and my stuff they'll think I died or something. "She laughed again at the ridiculousness of it all. "That would not be good at all," she stopped pacing then with a sudden stricken look on her face.
Jareth really didn't like that look on her face and wanted to banish it forever. But that was easier said than done as he couldn't send a facial expression to the Bog of Eternal Stench. Now that the iron was free from his body, restricting his power no more, he could give her what she needed though. It was very strange to find himself wanting to help someone. But he knew that he would do anything for Sarah. It also made it sweeter that she hadn't asked, or worse begged, him to fix everything for her. No, he didn't want her to feel like she owed him anything but her thanks; not Her. He walked up to stand in front of her, but still about a foot away. He reached up and wiped the tears from her cheeks gently. He didn't even care if his gloves' fingers were blackened this time. He cupped her cheek in his hand then and forced her to look him in the eye.
"Everything is alright," he told her and put a finger to her luscious lips to silence her when he could tell she was going to try to speak again. "It is," he said, "Your cabin is whole again, I'll show you," He stated simply before pulling her against him. He savored the feel of her very womanly body against his own during the very short trip back to the restored cabin. Sarah also enjoyed the contact, but a wave of dizziness hit her as the last time she had been unconscious and not noticed the strange feeling of displacement traveling like that could cause one not used to it.
He gave her some breathing room as he sensed her sudden uneasiness. Jareth caught her when she tried to take a step and her dizziness overwhelmed her to the point of falling. He sat her down on the very couch she had fallen asleep on hours earlier. Sarah was amazed to look around and see that everything was exactly as it had been before she had fallen asleep. Even the book she had been reading was laying open, facedown on the arm of the couch where she had left it before laying down. She blushed when she saw and remembered which book it was. It just had to be one with Fae creatures in it, of course, she grumbled to herself.
"This is amazing," she told him with feeling then, "Thank you so very much, Jareth. I don't know what else to say really I don't." She just looked at him and that unknown emotion she couldn't name returned to his bi-colored gaze. "Why did you do this for me?" she blurted out the words before she could stop herself, "I really don't deserve your kindness, especially not on this scale."
It was Jareth's turn to be shocked. He didn't know what had happened in the last ten years to make her underestimate herself so drastically, but he really didn't like this new part of her. Maybe it was that stepmother of hers, he thought. In the years since Sarah's trip to the Underground he had 'checked up' on her and everytime that woman had been around Sarah there hadn't been one kind word from her mouth unless she was talking about her son. Of all the misconceptions Sarah had had when she was younger, her stepmother being wicked was not one of them.
"You deserve all this and more, Precious Thing," he told her, the pet name slipping out before he realized what he had said. "Besides, it was the least I could do to solve your problems you would have had trying to report it from your house in the city." He told her, changing tactics to one he was sure she would more easily accept.
"Oh," she said dumbly, at a loss for words. First, Jareth calls her the very familiar nickname, except in a totally different way. Then the logic of his words was true, but seemed cold in comparison to the previous sentence. She really didn't know what to make of him, "Thank you," she said still not knowing what else to say.
"You are very welcome," he replied then and his voice sounded intense again, giving her pause and confusing her even more. This gorgeous Fae king was starting to infuriate her in a very adult way. His mixed signals were confusing by themselves and she wasn't any good at that kind of thing anyway, so who knew what he was feeling and thinking about her right now. She always blushed when she thought of their final confrontation ten years ago. It wasn't that she regretted her decision in saving Toby, which had been the right choice. It was the way she had handled herself with Jareth and the offer he had made more specifically. 'Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave' he had said. That was worth more than a blush looking back on it; especially the 'love me' part. To this day she still didn't know what to think about it all. She didn't know if he had been serious or if it had been just another tactic to try and get her to give up and go home, leaving Toby behind. A last ditch effort on his part, if you will.
Just one more thing in the whole crazy situation to confuse her, she guessed. It was those words spoken back then and everything about the gorgeous Fae that had featured heavily in her fantasies after she returned from the Underground. Even before she started to better understand all that had happened; she still had wanted him in some way. Then, later, when she was trying her luck in the dating world it was memories of his imperfect perfection that kept her from finding a man she could go out with more than once, if that. That was why she was still a virgin at twenty-five. She had been kissed, unfortunately, but just stolen pecks, nothing more serious than that. For she had realized years ago that creepy stolen kisses and awkward blind dates would never compare in her mind to one dance with Jareth and his serenades just for her. All these years the only thing she ever earned from 'the dating scene' was a few regrets and a few guys that she was fortunate enough to be able to morph into cool friends. Sarah relaxed against the couch momentarily and took a deep breath of the non-smoke-filled air. She coughed again when she breathed in the smoke-filled smell of her jammies again as she had been distracted once more from that fact.
"Ack," she said realizing that was going to keep happening if she didn't change her clothes. "I definitely need to get cleaned up and change into something that doesn't make me hack up a lung everytime I breathe." She muttered offhandedly. She got up then to start to do something about her clothes, at least, but missed Jareth making a small motion with his hand that dressed them both in clean clothes after washing the soot and smoke smell away from their bodies. She probably wouldn't have noticed except there was now a different kind of fabric brushing against her thighs as she walked. She stopped when she realized this. Sarah gasped at what she saw and turned around to question Jareth, but his appearance made her gasp as well and freeze. He had left his chest bare, but instead of his form-fitting leather pants he had been wearing, he was now clothed in a loose-fitting sleep pant made of some silky material that hung low on his hips in a way that made her cheeks heat and her temperature rise just looking at him. He also had removed his gloves and seeing his long slender fingers without them was just so strange in itself without the rest of the sensual overload that was the Goblin King at this moment. She had to visibly swallow before she could speak for he looked like several of her fantasies come to life. With the way his hair was falling forward, almost covering one eye; the man looked like sex personified and she wasn't surprised to find herself breaking out in a sweat. She swallowed again, for good measure, and was suddenly afraid that she would start drooling. She cleared her throat then before speaking and ended up saying something completely different than what she had intended.
"Thank you," she said and her voice sounded unlike she had ever heard it before. "That was much quicker, but you didn't have to. You've helped me with enough magic to last a lifetime tonight already." Her voice was breathy now and she was very aware of him and knew he was smart enough to figure out what was wrong with her. At the moment though, his eyes were roaming over her like they had earlier and her blush deepened when her nipples pebbled under his gaze. It was quite chilly in the room, but she was way too hot to even notice that at the moment. He had dressed her in a black nightie that went to mid-thigh, like the shorts she had been wearing, and felt like silk against her skin. It was held up by spaghetti straps and a very flattering and somewhat low-cut neckline. She was covered as much as she had been before and she was glad to feel that he had just cleaned the panties she had had on, but there was something very intimate about him dressing her like this. It was even more undeniably so with him looking at her the way he still was. He was walking toward her then and she froze in shock again, partially afraid that if she did move all of this would turn out to be a fantasy she was having after she fell asleep on the couch. And right now she was really hoping that didn't happen.
"It was my definite pleasure," he replied to her when he stopped right in front of her. His voice sounded so good that it alone caused a shiver of pleasure to course through her. "Tell me, Precious Thing," he began again, his voice so thick it was almost an octave lower than normal. "Would you grant a small wish of mine?" he asked her, surprising her thoroughly.
"But I don't have any magic," she told him, "I'm a boring old human. How could I grant a wish of yours?" she asked back, her confusion piercing her lust-fogged brain.
"I assure you that you can, Sarah," he whispered in her ear then, causing another ripple of pleasure. "I wouldn't have asked otherwise," he answered simply then. The feel of his breath against her ear was enough to make her to have to stifle a moan.
"Then, sure," she told him breathily, "What is your wish?" She said the words slowly for he had moved back to look in her eyes again and his gorgeous sapphire blue and chocolate brown eyes made speech almost impossible for her now.
"Can I kiss you, Precious Thing?" he asked her and her eyes widened in shock.
Chapter Seven –
She was speechless and her mouth started to hang open slightly before she could stop it. She couldn't help that her eyes moved down to stare at his luscious lips at that point, swallowing a new lump in her throat that his words had created. She shook her head slightly then, while saying;
"Sure, if you really want to," so quietly she could barely hear herself. There was no doubt that he heard her though for no sooner had she spoken that he swooped down the last inch or so and captured her lips with his passionately and completely. As amazing as it was unexpected it melted away all memory of those chaste pecks out of her mind. Then he took advantage of her slightly open mouth and teased her lips with his tongue and she was a goner. She had relaxed against him almost immediately, holding onto his shoulders so she didn't fall to the floor. He seemed to be as eager as she was as he dragged her body against his until every inch of their bodies were pressed together. Sarah moaned loudly when his tongue traced the inside and outside of her lips before nibbling on them lightly. Melting into him further, she wrapped her arms around his neck and tightened her fingers in his hair to keep him there for awhile. He moaned when she accidentally pulled his hair when his tongue started exploring her mouth, but she was already moaning at the same time and barely noticed. Sarah tried to follow his lead in the kiss as she had never done it before and was gratified when they both ended up making pleasure noises when her tongue caressed his. When her fingers ran over the edge of one of his ears he groaned loudly and they broke apart panting and staring at each other as if they were alone in the new world of possibilities that had just been opened up before them. It caused Sarah to whimper softly when she felt the hardened ridge of his arousal against her hip. The look in his eyes as he looked down into hers then was enough to cause her to visibly shiver.
"Well, that was new," Sarah murmured cheekily as saying things like that and stating the obvious were nervous habits of hers. Jareth chuckled then and it caused their bodies to move together in that way again; this time he hissed out the breath he was going to use to speak while she whimpered.
"It is that," he stated simply when he could speak again, a signature smirk raising one corner of his lips.
"Your ears are really sensitive, aren't they?" she asked mischievously when he sucked in a hurried breath when her fingertips brushed the pointed end of one of them. "I'll take that as a 'yes,'" she said and did it again. At that he growled low in his throat an animalistic sound and pressed her closer to him. Sarah traced the outline of that same ear before she could stop herself. She really didn't think it mattered for neither of them were going to be stopping anything anytime soon. He sucked in another breath and growled louder in pleasure when she rubbed the tips of both his ears with her fingertips before grazing them with her fingernails lightly. He moaned in a way that aroused her on a very primal level and had her practically panting just from watching and listening to him. She lost her fingers in his hair again, running them through the silver and gold strands that really were as soft as feathers.
"All of my skin is very touch sensitive," he confided then through a strained voice, "It's one of the reasons I wear gloves. But yes," he admitted, "My ears are one of the most sensitive areas." He pulled her lips to his then as if he couldn't help himself and reacted just as strongly when she melted into him again. His tongue probed her mouth as she immediately gave him access and deepened the kiss beyond the last one's standards. Both of them seemed to be pouring ten years' worth of longing and passion into every kiss and every movement. Her tongue dueled with his then and for once she wasn't hampered by her inexperience for the passion and other strong emotions she couldn't name or didn't want to name yet that she felt for this man who was not a man, but something magical and wholly male in a way that a human man never could be. These things made her natural instincts take over as she had admitted to herself many times that he was the one that had already ruined her for regular men, and this was definitely the last straw as far as that went. The kiss deepened until they were both breathing in pants and only breaking contact to come up briefly for air.
Jareth took her mouth with his again then, plunging his tongue into her mouth, in and out, in a way that mimicked an act both of them yearned for at this point. When they next came up for air he surprised her by using the opportunity to trail steamy kisses along the underside of her jaw to her neck. He used his tongue and teeth as well until her temperature was so high she felt like her blood could boil any second. She gasped out his name when he scraped his sharp teeth against the sensitive spot beneath her ear. He bit her there and she moaned his name as the pleasure/pain of it all intensified. He moaned as well as her fingers tightened and she pulled his hair again lightly. His sound of pleasure vibrated against her skin causing her flesh to goosebump everywhere. Jareth used his tongue to soothe the area of the tender bite then before blowing on it and she whimpered quietly at the wonderful sensations. He moved the trail up then, nibbling on her earlobe and she moaned breathlessly. She pulled his hair again and his sound echoed hers. His hands that had been tracing light patterns on the skin of her waist moved then. They both moved up very slowly, his thumbs tracing patterns on all available skin within their reach. The feel of the silk against her skin was like another caress and it quickened her breathe even more. He had realized this and was moving his hands in such a slow way against the silk and her skin underneath to take full advantage of it.
When his hands finally went high enough to cup her breasts she gasped in surprise. That turned quickly into a moaned version of his name as his thumbs lightly rubbed their hardened peaks. Sarah arched herself into his touch then, silently begging for more and her sounds seconded the motion. He repeated his movements before growing bolder and rolling their tips between his thumbs and forefingers. Aching for more of Jareth's touch suddenly, Sarah scooted closer to him and he started backing up slowly. The club chair, much like the ones at her apartment, was closest and its armlessness made it the perfect choice at the moment. He sat down suddenly, bringing her with him so that she was sitting on him and straddling his lap now. The sudden contact happened in such a way that both of them broke the kiss momentarily to cry out in pleasure. Before she could adjust herself closer to him, a pair of hands that were invisible and no doubt magical, but felt just like his real ones, moved her legs so that she was straddling his hips with the rest of their bodies still pressed against each other. Sarah could now feel the length of him so very close to the aching heat between her thighs, her breaths coming in pants now. Then the invisible pair of hands that were hard to distinguish from the ones caressing her breasts at this point, started to trace random patterns on the soft flesh of her inner thighs.
"Jareth!" she cried out softly as the core of her rubbed against his arousal when the magical hands parted her legs even more. She heard him groan in pleasure as well and felt a vibration that had to be another growl as her fingernails bit into his scalp. Almost crying out in despair when both sets of hands and his mouth left her she sucked in a sudden breath as she realized his hands were at the hem of her nightgown. He had it pulled up and off of her in a flash then. The rush of cold air caused her eyes to pop open and her nipples to harden to the point it was almost painful. She gasped at the unadulterated need and hunger present in Jareth's mismatched eyes. His gaze literally smoldered as he raked it slowly across her naked flesh. Embarrassed, but mostly unprepared and unused to the blatant sexual appreciation she blushed deeply and started to make a move to cover herself.
"You are exquisite, Precious Thing," he stated simply with such emotion in his voice that all thoughts of covering herself disappeared. Especially when Jareth's intense and tender gaze speared into hers. Sarah wouldn't have been surprised if the windows had steamed up from his gaze alone. "Kiss me, Sarah," he demanded quietly in a voice that brooked no opposition. It was a good thing that she was more than willing to oblige him. She leaned down then and captured his mouth hungrily with her own, both of them making muffled sounds as their tongues dueled each other. His hands moved to her butt then, desperate to get her closer, and pushed her into him in such a way that they both cried out. She rocked her hips against his then and they both gasped in shock at the intensity of the feeling.
Jareth surprised her then, completely shocked her really, when he leaned down to lick her nipples. He used his tongue to trail all the way around each one before sucking it into his mouth. When he sucked the first one into his mouth she made a sound that neither of them had ever heard before. She felt a tightening inside her even as she felt herself getting wetter for him. Sarah knew that this was what was supposed to happen with her body, in theory. But she had never before met a man that had turned her on that much before. Ironic that Jareth should be the only one and he wasn't human at all. All these thoughts swirled around in her head until he brought her nipple between his teeth and pulled lightly. That was when she felt herself shatter into a million pieces of sated pleasure/pain. So, that's what an orgasm feels like, Sarah idly wondered as her brain tried to get itself to function again.
"You are quite amazing, Sarah," Jareth hummed into her lips as his were a hairsbreadth apart from them now, "I should have known you would be so responsive, Precious Thing." He kissed her then. It was a heated meeting of lips, teeth, and tongues. She was so distracted by the kiss that she didn't even notice his fingers were caressing the skin of her inner thighs once more, until they reached the spot between. Even his fingers brushing lightly through the thin material of her panties caused a large shiver of pleasure to wrack her body. It was his name on her lips while he swallowed it with their kiss. She rubbed herself against him then, trying to get closer anyway she could. Her sensitive nipples brushed against the hard and defined muscles of his hairless chest then to which they both murmured their approval incoherently. Her hips moved against his and the wetted state of her panties almost made it feel like there was nothing between. In an unexpected burst of assertiveness and desperate need of him she breathed,
"Pants…Off…Now." These three words were quite simple and they seemed to finally make their way through his brain when her hands came down to caress his slender, but muscular thighs through the thin silk of his lounge pants. Suddenly her hands were touching skin and not only were his pants gone, but so were her panties. It was a fact she suddenly realized when he reached out to cup her mound again and they both realized there was nothing separating them. He sucked in a breath as she cried out his name at his touch. He couldn't believe when he could already feel how wet she was for him.
"Oh, Precious," he whispered as she moaned forcefully enough to break slightly apart from his lips then. "You are so wet for me, Sarah," he stated simply and thickly as his fingers began to plump her outer folds with soft caresses.
"Only for you, Jareth," Sarah replied, her hips moving to ask silently for more of his exquisite touch. "Touch me, Jareth," She pleaded then, needing this and him. "Take me...I'm yours," she continued before she could stop herself. Then words became impossible under his torturous touch. He didn't really know how true her words were in every sense, but now was not the time for that. He growled then and it vibrated through to where her body touched his, causing her to moan his name once more, loudly, before he started to explore the inner folds of her sex. He captured her lips once more; this kiss was rougher and hungrier than before as she cried out from his caresses. She was past words at this point and only making soft whimpers and keening sounds into their kiss. He found the little bundle of nerve endings within and all he had to do was rub it a couple times while mimicking the movements with his tongue and she climaxed again. He kissed a trail to her ear and used his teeth so much that she was a quivering mass as the aftershocks of pleasure continued to shake her. He brought his fingers to his mouth then and licked them clean and it was one of the most erotic things she had ever seen. She pulled his mouth back to her for another kiss. She could taste herself in his mouth, but that only added to the experience.
"I really need to be inside you now," Jareth murmured against her ear then and she whimpered his name and the words 'yes' and 'now' before reaching down to boldly trace the length of his member with her fingers. He jumped at the surprising contact and hissed out his breath, but she didn't stop. She moved her hips against his length and the tip brushed her inner folds as they both stopped to groan. She moved her hands from his abs to his chest, his muscles jumping under her soft and innocent touch. Sarah moved her hands up to his shoulders before massaging up and down the muscles of his back. He rubbed his arousal against her slick folds again, wetting himself before she suddenly felt the velvet-wrapped steel of the head of him at her entrance. He kissed her again and she was so distracted by the things his tongue was doing inside her mouth that when he plunged inside her in one hard thrust, breaking her maidenhead like tissue paper, to become buried to the hilt inside of her. He completely froze then in shock and wonder at her sudden cry of pain and the slight resistance he had felt in passing.
"Oh, Precious," he said, trying not to moan at the glorious feel of being buried inside her. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked her in wonder, "I would have been gentler." He continued.
"I thought you knew," she told him quietly, embarrassed tremendously. "There is only you, Jareth," she confessed quietly. Adjusting to the invasion of his large member and to the feeling of fullness it brought her, it took her a few moments before she was ready to move on. "Be gentle now," she added when he still hadn't moved or said anything else.
"Sarah," he said her name like a prayer. "You have no idea how honored I am," he told her, "Goddess, I love you, Precious Thing," he said before he started to move and effectively robbed her of speech when she felt like talking most. The rhythm he started was nice and gentle, lifting her up and down against him practically by himself. But when the pleasure and instinct took over she started moving her hips on her own, helping him and he would lift his to meet hers. She leaned down for a quick kiss before moaning out,
"I….love….you….too." Screaming his name out loudly then as she shattered one last time. The inner walls of her tightening on his member, making her already tight passage even tighter along with her words and fingernails biting into his shoulders made him reach his climax seconds later, growling out her name in a way that reminded her that he was very much not human. He collapsed back onto the chair with her collapsed on top of him.
Chapter Eight –
He had a smile on his face as he looked at her prone figure with love and satisfaction shining brightly in his eyes. He lifted her off of him when she started to stir and pulled out of her before turning so he could settle her across his thighs innocently enough for the moment. When she looked at him and saw his smile she couldn't help but return it with one of her own. She tested out all of her muscles then and was thrilled to find that she was only the slightest bit sore. She leaned down and lay her head on his shoulder, sighing in contentment. She hadn't been this happy since she didn't know when.
"Now what?" she whispered quietly into the crook of his neck when her breathing slowed down to normal speed. He chuckled softly then and she looked at him questioningly.
"I was thinking of asking you the same thing," he replied to her then, teasingly. The intense look was back in his bi-colored gaze and she could now recognize the unnamable emotion there as love. Looking into his eyes like that made her very aware that they both were still naked. Sarah tried to push that aside for now though since he seemed to be able to and they had serious things to talk about. The most important thing being that the Goblin King had just made love to her. The enormity of that fact was enough to make her head spin. She had just lost her virginity to a member of the Faery. Just thinking about it made her want to laugh and cry at the same time. She chose to do only the former because she hated to cry in front of others.
"What?" he asked her and he sounded so much like himself that tears started falling down her cheeks whether she wanted them to or not. "Sarah, Precious, what's wrong?" he asked her softly with concern and love still clear in his voice. He thumbed away her tears lightly and she stilled suddenly. It was still so weird to see his hands without gloves, let alone feel them.
"Nothing is wrong, really," she told him reassuringly, "The whole situation is just so surreal." She went on haltingly. "Plus, I think almost dying in that fire might have affected me more that the obvious," She motioned toward him vaguely as she said the last part and smiled sweetly at him then. "I don't think I thanked you properly for saving me," she continued then. She kissed his neck then and was more than pleased that she felt a tremor go through him at her movements and leaned up a bit to whisper in his ear. "Thank you, Jareth," she told him simply, "I would have died if you hadn't saved me. I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank you enough."
"Oh, Sarah," Jareth said, turning so their lips were less than an inch apart. "I don't need your thanks. I am just thankful that I wasn't too late," he told her with brutal honesty in his voice, "I don't know what I would have done without you." His tone was so sincere that Sarah was sure it showed in her eyes and her expression how much his words touched her. She leaned in to kiss him then, needing to know that this was real and he wasn't just another loneliness-induced dream or fantasy. He soon took over the kiss and showed her just how varied his talents were. They broke the kiss only when they had to come up for air.
"What was that for?" he asked her then. She smiled when he raised his eyebrow as he asked the question.
"I was just trying to make sure you were real and not some dream that would disappear just when I start to believe." She answered him quite honestly then. He smiled a very familiar smile then, one she just had to return.
"I assure you, Precious," he said then, "That I am just as real as you are." He brought his hand up to caress her cheek then and she couldn't help leaning into his touch and closing her eyes with a sigh. "And you feel very real to me," he continued. The husky quality of his voice was like another caress itself and she opened her eyes to find his staring into them. It was then that she could feel that she wasn't the only one becoming aroused again. She could feel him stirring against her thigh from the angle she was sitting on him.
"You should probably kiss me or touch me some more to make sure," she told him brazenly then and wasn't surprised when his eyes started to do that smoldering thing again at her bold statement.
"Perhaps, I should," he said quietly before capturing her mouth once more. His tongue dueled with hers in a way that had her moaning and clinging to him as his mouth continued to plunder hers. Taking advantage of her position, her hands started caressing over the flesh of his stomach, chest, and back in a way that made him groan into their kiss as well.
"Let's try this in a bed this time, shall we?" he murmured against her lips before nibbling on them and kissing her in a way that quite robbed her of speech. She could only whimper as his body suddenly pressed against hers as her back was now against her bed. It was easier than getting up to walk to the bedroom, and faster, she had to admit. But she couldn't say anything at the moment and could barely think the way his naked body was now laying atop her. He parted her thighs with one of his hands then and maneuvered himself until he was lying between them. It made his arousal brush against her core in such a way that had them both crying out at the shocking pleasure of it. His hands moved down to caress her breasts then and she arched into his touch with a moan. One of his hands continued to journey down her body as it caressed her stomach, then her hip. Knowing where it was headed Sarah could feel herself becoming more aroused and was sure he would be able to feel the wetness between her thighs in just a moment.
When his hand did indeed move between her legs to her slick folds, her hips bucked up into his touch with a whimper. He founds the little nub then and her hips started bucking again knowing where this build-up was leading. Sarah cried out in surprise when the invisible hands were back. One set was caressing her breasts while the other set was teasing the flesh between her thighs. She only realized that his actual hands were the ones teasing her lower folds only when she actually opened her eyes. Sarah was surprised then, crying out his name as he moved down to capture a nipple in his mouth at the same time one of his fingers entered her moist channel. When his thumb and forefinger teased the little nub of flesh a few times she climaxed so hard all of her body jerked off of the bed momentarily. His fingers continued to pump in and out of her until every last aftershock of pleasure made its' way through her body.
"Beautiful," he muttered as he leaned back to watch her body in the midst of ultimate pleasure. Sarah couldn't do much more than look up at him with awe and love in her gaze. Needing him to realize everything she was feeling she forcefully grabbed his head, both of her hands sinking into his feather soft hair as she pulled his head down for a heated kiss. She poured all of her emotions of the moment into it. She was pleasantly surprised when he was the first one to moan when she deepened the kiss. She followed soon after though as he and his dominant streak took over. She was only too happy to let him as he was obviously more experienced when it came to this sort of thing. Sarah moaned once more as she felt the tip of his arousal rubbing against her entrance, lubricating himself with hers. They both gasped as he started to enter her. She tightened her grip on his hair, pulling it slightly as she did causing Jareth to growl low in his throat. The vibration caused more pleasure to soar through her as he sank completely inside her. He was so deep she cried out as he reached a spot that he hadn't last time. The delicious friction as he found a rhythm that seemed to have them both blissed out after only a few strokes was almost too intense for her to handle. Her body took over at some point, her hips raising to meet his with each stroke. His fingers were tangled in her hair as he massaged her scalp gently.
The contrast and tenderness of that action was enough to cause tears of joy to stream down her cheeks. The loving murmurs he whispered in her ear then as he brought his thumbs down to wipe her tears away hit something deep inside her; something that no one had ever touched before. Sarah was as surprised as Jareth when her inner muscles stared to tighten as she shattered with the most powerful climax she had had yet. The fact that they were both taken off guard probably contributed to the power of it because he went over the edge shortly after she did. He collapsed onto her then, but only momentarily as he didn't want to make it difficult for her to breath. He pulled them onto their sides as he rolled them over and pulled out of her before snuggling her closer to him.
"I take it those were not tears of pain, Precious Thing," Jareth whispered in her ear then causing her to shiver as pleasure was still coursing through her. She could only shake her head 'no' at this point for she was afraid she would moan if she opened her mouth.
"Then why the tears, Sarah mine?" he asked and she blushed at the overwhelming sensations this night has brought her and him, as well as his words.
"It was just so beautiful," she told him breathlessly, "I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. I still am." She confessed her voice still breathless with emotion. She leaned against him, snuggling into his chest. He pulled her against him as well, his arms around her waist to do so as she spoke.
"Oh, Sarah Precious," he whispered thickly before squeezing her affectionately once more. "It was beautiful for me too," he told her quite honestly, "It was exquisite, just like you," He said caressing her cheek lightly; the intense quality having never left his voice. Realizing that his words ten years ago might have been true and his offer real if he really did love her like he had let slip. Feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment she really needed to know the truth, to hear him say it again.
Chapter Nine –
"Did you mean it?" she asked him suddenly, looking into his eyes; needing to see his face when he answered her questions. "Do you really love me?" She clarified her question when he raised his eyebrow and looked slightly confused at her sudden change in mood.
"Ah," he made the noise as if she had confirmed for him what he had thought she was asking, and perhaps she had. "Of course, Sarah," he told her as if he was offended that she was doubting his sincerity. "I have loved you for more than ten years." He said then shocking her. "Though perhaps," he continued then with a chuckle, "It hasn't always been the same as it has been tonight." She smiled slightly, shyly at him then. She just couldn't believe that he was really here and this was really happening.
"I'm sorry for doubting you, Jareth," she told him, "It's just that this kind of thing is very new to me," she made a vague motion with her hand trying to mean their nudity and recent intimacy, but who knows what he actually thought the motion meant.
"Precious, that was made quite clear to me by your virginal state," he told her with another chuckle. Sarah blushed violently at his honest statement. "And you have nothing to be sorry for," he added then caressing her cheek softly. "I know it was prideful of me to believe that you would instantly trust my word, especially given our past," He ran his fingers down her cheek then and onto her shoulder. "What about you, Precious Thing?" he questioned. "Did you mean your words as well?" She had expected him to ask her something like this after her question, but she was surprised how much it hurt and suddenly completely empathized with him about this.
"Yes, Jareth," she responded quietly, feeling vulnerable again for seemingly no reason. "I meant them." Then as something sunk in suddenly she realized his exact words before. "Wait," she blurted out, "You've loved me for more than ten years?" she continued, "Does this mean that your offer all those years ago was really real?" After the words were out of her mouth she realized how they must have sounded to him and she slapped one of her hands over her mouth then in regret for basically blurting out that she still doubted him in this way. "That didn't come out right," she mumbled from behind her hand. He chuckled then at her actions and he had wondered if this would come up and knew he owed her the honest truth. Luckily, he thought, she already knew of his feelings for her. It was a dream come true to hear that she loved him too. He had thought it was practically impossible for her to feel the same way about him as he did for her, especially given the way things had crumbled around him ten years earlier.
"No, don't," he said, removing her hand from her mouth with his. "It's alright, Sarah." He brushed a curl that had fallen forward behind her ear then. "You deserve an answer to that question. We can never move forward if you have any doubts about the past," he said. "I did quite a lot at that time to deter you from reaching the castle, but you have to know that my final offer had nothing to with the baby and everything to do with trying to keep you with me in the Underground." He sighed then reminiscing mentally was bringing back some not-so-good memories as well. "Do you know that you were the only one to actually reach the castle, let alone make it to the oubliette? You were the only one that was worthy of the challenge of my labyrinth and definitely the only one that had thought about doing more than cowering in fear. I think that's when I fell in love with you. But I already loved you before you had even wished your brother away." He heard her gasp and looked up from where he had been tracing light patterns on her neck and shoulder with his fingertips.
"But how?" she asked, "How did you even know I existed, and why would you care?"
"Oh, Sarah," he said quietly, "As I told you from the beginning, you were not an ordinary girl, and you're certainly not an ordinary woman," He saw her shiver then as his fingers started running through her hair. "I was drawn to you the first time I spotted you in that park dressed in one of your costumes," She gasped again then and he paused as her eyes widened as he continued to look into them.
"The owl that would sit on the columns!" she exclaimed, "I had always thought it strange for an owl to be about during daylight hours," She reached out and touched his cheek then, still needing reassurance that he was real and that this was happening. "That was you?" she asked then, apparently full of questions now.
"I'm surprised you remembered," Jareth said, "Yes, that was me," he answered her; "I had been drawn to you from the first." He sighed then. "My owl form is very convenient," he continued, "Especially for escaping the boredom that being surrounded by tiny imbeciles all day instills in me from time to time. Flights Aboveground have been a habit of mine for longer than I can remember," he confessed. "Watching the world above change over the years has piqued my interests enough from time to time that I would find myself spending hours just watching. But You have been the only thing that has ever captivated me like this; to defy explanation of why. Not that I've ever felt the need to explain my need for you."
His words shocked Sarah in a very good way and for the first time she got a glimpse of how it felt to feel precious, to feel the way he saw her. She also got a glimpse into his life as well. She had never thought about how boring it must be for him with only the goblins for company most of the time, and she imagined, or at least hoped, that people didn't wish others away to the goblins every day. No wonder he wants to dip everyone he could in the Bog, she thought, it must give him something else to do.
"Oh, Jareth," she exclaimed breathily before leaning in and kissing him tenderly as the import of his words fully sunk in. He moved a hand to the back of her neck to tilt her head a bit, deepening the kiss briefly before they had to come up for air. "I love you so much, Jareth," she told him when she could breath again, "And I'm sorry it took me ten years to realize and admit it."
"I love you very much too, Sarah," he replied, "And don't be sorry, Precious" he told her, "Even though I loved you back then I realized that you had chosen the best outcome for everyone at that time. After all," he continued his explanation, "You were so young and the complication of you wishing your baby brother away would have stood like a wedge between us if you had accepted my offer back then." Sarah nodded then, knowing he was right. She had never regretted saving Toby, only regretted never seeing a certain Fae king again.
"What about now?" Sarah blurted out before she could talk herself out of it. "Does the offer still stand?" She blushed after she rushed all the words out, feeling more vulnerable than ever.
"No," he started to say and she suddenly burst into tears and sat up trying to cover herself as she started to swing her legs over the side of his huge bed. Feeling stupid for believing his answer would be different, Sarah felt the biggest fool in the world. From one moment to the next her torturously detailed imagination jumped to the worst conclusions possible. That none of this night had been real; that he had only schmoozed and charmed, lied his way into her heart and her bed tonight just to take his revenge and reject her this time, turning the tables on her in the cruelest way possible. From there her imaginings just got much worse and outlandish the more seconds ticked by.
"Wait," he said then and touched her shoulder gently, "Let me finish," he said in the tone as he was suddenly standing on her side of the bed and both of them were dressed in the sleeping attire he had dressed them in earlier. He reached up to wipe her tears away when she looked up, but she turned away again before he could and he sighed dejectedly. "I meant," he continued whether she wanted him to listen now or not, "That that offer wasn't valid any longer because I had a much better one to make you." He said and watched as she slowly turned her tear-stained face toward him and he saw that hope had once again bloomed behind the fear and doubt in her eyes.
"Really?" she asked with a sniffle in her voice so quiet he would have missed it were he human. But no matter how loud that sound broke his heart.
"Yes, Precious Thing, really," he whispered back to her, wanting to do anything at this point to get her to smile again. He produced a crystal then and rolled it down his other shoulder and arm and then he let it roll between his fingers a bit as he kneeled before her so he was now face to face with her once more. "This is for you," he told her and placed the crystal in her hand once he had pulled her hand gently away from where she had been clutching it against herself and placed her hand so it was outstretched between them then. He laughed then as she looked like she would drop it any second. "If you turn it this way and look into it," he told her as he covered the crystal with his hand, "It will show you my dreams," he finished then and it was her turn to raise an eyebrow questionably.
"Your dreams?" she echoed. Jareth nodded slightly and then lifted his hand to reveal a diamond ring with rubies flanking it. All three stones looked very big, with the diamond biggest of all and the ring itself looked ancient, the hammered old gold band shining in the dim light. She looked from the ring to his eyes then and saw he was smiling slightly, but looked a bit worried as well, as if he was actually worried she would refuse him.
"Will you accept this offer, Sarah? Will you be my queen and let me love you for longer than forever?" He asked in a formal voice. "For I shall do that no matter what your answer may be," he muttered then in a much different tone. It was the casual way he was throwing around the word forever that made it click and she suddenly got the enormity of what he was asking her.
"But I'm just a human," Sarah blurted out then, worriedly, "I'm mortal and will eventually die."
"Oh, Precious Thing, someone that has studied tales of Faery as much as you have should know that time doesn't govern the Underground the way it does your world." He told her and then his voice turned serious. "Sarah," he said, "If you come with me, time will no longer govern your life either. You will no longer age and you will not die for a very, very, very long time, if ever. You must consider this before answering me. I realize it's a lot to take in," He sounded almost sad then and she just had one question before she could answer him.
"Will I be able to say goodbye to my family, and maybe visit sometimes?" she asked then, trying to convey what she was going to answer with every word.
"Of course," he answered and he perked up a bit, studying her face before piercing her gaze with his own then and she smiled brightly. "Though, eventually they would notice that you haven't aged even though they'll grow old and die. That is one of the burdens of immortality." He added sounding grave again.
"Just to go over things once more then," she began, trying to hide the joy in her voice and not quite succeeding, "You're offering me the man I love and a life in a magical world forever. I will never grow old and can visit the Aboveground whenever I feel like it," she paused then, mostly for dramatic affect. "Then I've made my decision, Jareth," she told him and he looked like he was bracing himself for the worst. Like I would make the same mistake twice, Sarah scoffed mentally, even I'm not that stupid or cruel. She smiled brightly up at him and caressed his cheek then, "Of course, I'll marry you, Jareth," she replied, "Though I'm sure forever won't be nearly long enough to spend loving you," she stated finally in what was no doubt the sappiest thing she had ever said out loud.
"You're right," he told her, smiling in return, "Forever, isn't very long at all really," He took the ring and slid it onto her finger, their eyes never looking away from each other's. He leaned in and kissed the ring that was now fit perfectly on her left hand where it would stay and then moved up to kiss her lips as well. She kissed him back enthusiastically, pulling him closer so she could wrap her arms around his neck. He stood up then and brought her with him before picking her up bridal style when they parted for breath. Sarah giggled then, looking up at him lovingly before the couple disappeared from the cabin and all of Aboveground as she leaned down to kiss him once more.
A week later Sarah and Jareth returned Aboveground so she could say goodbye to her family. She was going to return the next day after they had spent that first night together in the Underground in Jareth's massive four poster bed, but they got a bit distracted. Now though they both knew if she put this off any longer her family would think something happened to her and involve the police. Jareth, in his human-looking guise came with her as they were going to try and tell her family as much of the truth as possible. Her father and Karen were surprised, of course, at her sudden elopement, for she and Jareth had made a pit stop in Las Vegas to make sure everything was a legal as possible topside before she went to the Underground to stay. As it had been quite legal in his world, Jareth had confessed to her, the moment he had made love to her the first time, removing her virginity.
Jareth had surprised her this morning after the short human ceremony with a very lavish wedding present, but given Jareth's standards so far she guessed it was on par with the rest of the gifts he had given her already. He had bought a manor house in the countryside of Cork county in Ireland to back up their story that Jareth was a visiting rare antiquities dealer from Britain that was relocating to a recently inherited family property. The reason Jareth told her he had gotten it for her was that Sarah had always wanted to visit Ireland and they needed a decoy house Aboveground in case Toby or any other family members decided they wanted to visit them over there. He had chosen Ireland because Jareth had admitted that the barrier between worlds was much thinner there and made travel between them much easier. It seemed that Jareth was still quite fond of her little brother since spending those hours with him during their time in the labyrinth. It made Sarah giggle just thinking about how much he obviously loved her. It was still completely amazing to her. All of that though, in the end, helped take the sting out of Sarah's sudden marriage and departure to a foreign country for her parents. If they only knew exactly how foreign it really was, Sarah thought ruefully.
The real reason for the purchase of the house, that he kept secretly to himself of course, was that Jareth had discovered he loved watching Sarah's response when he surprised her. The way her eyes had lit up when he had popped them over there after their wedding for a quick look-see before her parents expected them was worth more to him than a million houses in the country. It wasn't as if human money was a hard commodity for him, or any of his race, to procure. When you lived as long as they did you tended to acquire things that accrue beyond any human's expectations so he had no compunction whatsoever to spend that 'wealth' liberally on his new queen. She deserved the very best of both worlds.
What Sarah and Jareth hadn't expected was Toby's reaction upon seeing Jareth again after all these years. Sarah had taken Jareth upstairs to her old room during a 'tour' of the house that Karen had insisted she take him on. Karen didn't know how utterly ridiculous that concept was for them so Sarah decided to just humor her this time. What had ended up happening was Jareth saw the figurine that her version of him had come from, as it had been a rare present from her real mother, sitting on her childhood vanity. The fact that her mother had given it to her had been the reason she had told herself she had kept the figurine when she had put away the rest of her 'playthings.' But she had always known that though that had contributed to it, she had really kept it because it reminded her of Jareth. She hadn't needed reminders of her friends, after all, because she still called for them from time to time, but the Goblin King had been much more elusive back then. When her mother had died, however, it became too painful to look at, even if it did remind her of Jareth as well. She had left it here at her old room when she moved out on her own for her father kept her room for her so she would feel comfortable when she visited, he had said. And with the stress of no longer having to live under the same roof as Karen gone, she did visit very often.
When Sarah had told Jareth the truth of why she had kept it in plain sight all these years, that coupled with the truth of the way that the figurine seemed out of place in the now sparsely decorated 'grown up' version of her room, he had kissed her quite suddenly and passionately. It had reminded her so much of that first kiss they shared last week that they had forgotten where they were and ended up fooling around on her very familiar childhood bed. Sarah and Jareth only remembered where they were when there was a knock on the door that she was suddenly very glad she had remembered to close. Sarah had worried it was Karen and was curiously surprised when it turned out to be the almost twelve year old Toby on the other side.
"What's up, Tobe?" Sarah asked him when she opened the door. He completely ignored her and came into the room to stand right before Jareth.
"You're him aren't you?" Toby asked then and Jareth quirked an eyebrow. "You're the Goblin King." Sarah burst out laughing at the way Toby's question eerily echoed her own of so long ago. Jareth smiled then and looked at Sarah with a look on his face that must be nostalgia. She looked back at him with an identical smile and it was like they were alone in the world as they were lost in each other's eyes. That is, until Toby made himself known once more. He made a little boy sound of frustration and turned to Sarah.
"That story you used to tell me at bedtime, Sar, about the beautiful girl that the handsome Goblin King loved and then the king coming to take the baby brother away to his castle," Toby began again and she blushed at Jareth finding out about her personal version of the story, that she told to test Toby's memory of their time there over the years, this way. "You used to ask me if I remembered the next part of the story. I did remember, Sarah, but I didn't think it was real," He went on shocking both Sarah and Jareth with this confession. "But," he continued turning to point at Jareth again, "You are real so it must have really happened." Toby justified then.
"Sarah?" Jareth questioned simply then with a serious note in his tone. The fact that he was asking her before acting showed her how he felt more than the huge rock on her finger. She smiled at him and tears were swimming in her eyes. She was overwhelmed with memories and Jareth himself.
"Oh, Jareth," Sarah exclaimed in a watery voice before she could stop the words from coming out of her mouth and he was at her side in an instant. His arm snaked around her waist to bring her closer to him as close as he could. Well, as close as he could while there was a child in the room, that is. "Toby, I'm sorry," Sarah addressed her brother finally. "If I had known that you had really remembered I would have told you the truth."
"You mean that really did happen, Sarah?" Toby asked. Then as if he had just realized something he interrupted her when she started to answer him by asking something else. "Does that mean that you're going back to live in that place we went before?" Sarah nodded slowly, but needed to make sure he knew how important it was to keep all of this a secret.
"But, Toby, you can't tell anyone, okay? They have to think that we're living full time in Ireland."
"Duh, Sarah," Toby told her in pure childish indignation, "I'm not stupid. They'd think I was crazy if I told them you went to live with the Goblin King, anyway, Sar," Sarah laughed at that, knowing he was right and glad to know he was smart enough to realize that.
"That's true, Tobe," She told him as she realized how much she would miss watching him grow up during the times that she would be in the Underground. "I'm going to really miss you, little brother," Sarah told him before pulling him into a tight hug and grossing him out when she kissed his cheek.
"Eww!" he exclaimed and she laughed. "Yuck, Sar, why'd you have to do that for?" His words were muffled as he used his arm to violently wipe away any possible remnants of her kiss from his face.
"Sorry, big guy," She told him as the tears started to fall down her cheeks whether she wanted them to or not. "We'll come to visit sometimes though, okay?" she stated rather than asking him then.
"Can I come visit you too, Sarah?" he asked bursting with excitement suddenly. She looked over at Jareth then and he murmured quietly,
"Whatever you wish," with a smile that stole her breath.
"Of course you can, Toby," Sarah continued then as Toby hadn't heard the intervening words anyway. Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks then. Jareth leaned over then and brushed her tears away and snuck a brief kiss in there too since he was so close already. Sarah gave him another watery smile as Toby, who had been cheering his open invitation to the Underground, groaned in pure disgust as Jareth kissed her. She ruffled Toby's hair before taking Jareth's hand and heading downstairs.
"Come on let's say goodbye to my dad and Karen," she told Jareth as Toby ran ahead of them down the stairs. Their goodbyes were brief and having soothed her family's fears as much as she could Sarah felt a great weight lifted off of her chest. When they were outside her childhood home Jareth surprised her by popping them over to the nearby park.
"Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl..." Jareth quoted her words of so long ago then, "But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl..." He reached down and caressed her cheek then, staring into her eyes as his did that smoldering thing she liked so much. He had walked her over to the small bench that Merlin used to lay on while she would 'rehearse.' He stopped then and smiled crookedly at her. "No one could have blamed me for loving you from the start, you know," he said then, "You were quite exquisite even then. So serious and yet conversing with your dog like it was all quite normal. I think I loved you quite instantly."
Overwhelmed by his words, memories, and goodbyes Sarah went on her tiptoes to kiss him, just needing him to be closer to her, as it gave her comfort as did his loving kiss. He surprised her then, for when he pulled her closer to him, instead of kissing her again he nuzzled her cheek with his as he spun her into a slow and intimate waltz. He started quietly singing an all too familiar tune into her ear then and the song along with his voice and their intimate position caused her to melt into him more than willingly. Afraid she would start crying again at any moment at how sweet he was being and how poignant the whole situation was, Sarah turned her face then to kiss him again. He kissed her with the same passion he brought to every kiss they shared and soon they were no longer swaying to the memorable music still playing in both of their minds. But were moving to a primal beat of a dance as old as time.
"Come on, Your Majesty," she told him with a smile in her voice once she could speak again after they broke apart panting to come up for some desperately needed air, "Let's go home."
"As you wish, My Queen," he whispered back to her before picking her up, wanting to follow the whole carrying the bride over the threshold tradition, causing her to giggle happily once more. Then they disappeared to start their very own happily forever and ever after. For forever wasn't quite long enough for them.