Disclaimer: Labyrinth belongs to a whole lot of people, none of whom are me. I'm not getting paid for this, yet I write it regardless.
Seven years of disappointing relationships, dreams of the one man she'd never forgotten, a disastrous attempt at acting, and her funds nearly drying up landed her on the other side of the Atlantic, far away from comfort and what she'd consider normal.
Needless to say, the life of Sarah Williams had not gone particularly according to plan.
Sarah picked up the drinks, loading her tray and heading to the table they belonged to, trying to ignore the thick smoke in the bar, serving beers to the men who would go on about the bar wenches until the bar closed around two in the morning. She'd scraped together the last of her funds to move out of the country, to try to start over in England, only to find that she could barely scrape together enough money to survive.
A different band played every weekend, little underground groups, sometimes playing better music than others. This week, she'd not paid much attention. She'd been working here for months and at this point, everything was starting to blur together.
She served the drinks to the men, heading back behind the bar, picking up some of the slack for the bartender and owner.
She turned, finding Jeremy, the bartender, holding a glass of ice water, and gesturing towards the stage. She sighed, hoping that this performer would not do the same thing as the last, who thought it was acceptable to try to grope the serving wench. The offer for a return performance was not granted to that band. Jeremy had taken up the mantle of older brother when she'd come to this country, taking her under his wing and offering her a job when all of her interviews fell through. "The old bloke at the microphone needs a drink."
"Water? That's not something you see here often." She saw the amusement in his face and gave a half-shrug, taking the glass and heading up to the stage. Finally, she allowed herself to examine the man who sat with a guitar strung around himself. He wore a short leather jacket, a snug black t-shirt, and equally snug, brown leather pants. His hair was neatly combed back into a ponytail which hung a surprising length down his back. "Your water, sir." She set it on the stool near him and watched as he reached for it blindly, preparing mentally for the next song.
"Thank you, miss-"
The back of his hand caught the glass and she scrambled forward in an attempt to catch the fragile container before it met it's unhappy ending on the stage floor. She only just managed to keep her grasp on it, but did wind up sloshing a good bit of the water down the front of her white blouse. "Ah, bloody hell..." She shook the water off, setting the glass in the man's, frowning when she noticed he seemed quite unable to grip it. Her eyes rose and she found herself staring into mis-matched eyes of brown and blue. Her heart caught in her throat and she stared at the man before her, stunned.
Blond bangs fell in front of his eyes, which looked far more weary than she remembered him looking. When she'd last seen him, he'd looked tired, sure. Now, though...
"Sarah! Orders piling up, girl! Get a move on!"
Jeremy's voice pulled her from her thoughts and she quickly set the glass on the stool at his side and hurried away, off to continue her work. When she got behind the bar, Jeremy looked at her concerned. "Girl, you look like you've seen a ghost."
"Not a ghost..." She said quietly, glancing towards the stage. "I...think I know him..."
The music set continued until finally, the man who looked so much like a certain Goblin King bid everyone goodnight, received his scattered applause and began packing his things. Rather than head out the back, like most performers did immediately following the performance, he moved towards the bar, sitting on a stool directly in front of her.
She tried to ignore the feel of his eyes upon her. It was more difficult than she'd thought. Finally, the bar slowed down around midnight and she turned, finding him...still staring at her.
Jeremy moved towards him. "Look, you can stay and drink, or you can go mister. Quit ogling the wait-staff!"
He didn't really pay much attention to what the man said. His eyes met hers and he licked his lips before speaking. "Sarah Williams, I presume?"
She felt her throat close and she twisted the rag in her hands. "Uh, Jeremy, I...could I have a minute?"
The bartender looked at her in concern, then gave the man a warning look before nodding and walking away. He stood at the other end of the bar, trying to look threatening.
She glanced back at the man, her hands shaking. She began vigorously cleaning the bar, feeling shy and nervous. "Goblin King?"
His lips turned up into a faint smile. "Once upon a time perhaps. Now, as it was when I was a youth, it's simply Jareth King." He kept watching her. "Forgive my staring. I simply am having trouble believing it's actually you, Precious. When we first...encountered each other, you were not in England."
"Oregon." She gave a half-smile, the cloth stilling. "I needed to get away. I knew everyone there, and...I always wanted to go to Europe." One of his long hands moved towards hers, and she noticed for the first time that he wasn't wearing gloves. She felt his fingertips touch her own and her breath caught. There was a painful twist in her chest and she began scrubbing the bar once again, pretending she didn't feel that faint brush. "So...Why are you here? Don't you have goblins to kick?"
He chuckled. "No, dear. You see, seven years ago when you so kindly declared that I have no power over you, the goblins revolted against a man who cannot even stop a mortal girl, who in fact became ensnared by her. They refused to keep me as their king, and used their own magic to send me...home."
Her eyes snapped up and she looked at him in surprise. "Home...? You mean-?"
He gave her a wry, amused grin. "Yes, my dear. England is my home. The Underground was my home for a great many years, from when I wandered off as a youth and into the Labyrinth. Defeating it led the goblins to believe I had special powers, and they made me their king." He shrugged. "Over the long years in the Underground, I actually developed several, but since I've returned, they've been...diminishing."
"Can-" she hesitated. "Can you still do the contact juggling with the crystals?"
He smirked. "Not without gloves, Sarah."
"Ah..." She glanced towards Jeremy, chewing her lip. "Do you want a drink or something?"
"I'm afraid my budget is a tad tight for a beverage, my dear." He rested his hands upon the bar and began to stand. "I should go before your boss decides I'm distracting you."
"Wait-" She was surprised that he sank back into the seat, looking at her in interest. "Just a second, alright?" She walked towards Jeremy and lowered her voice. "Uh, he's an old friend. Can I take the rest of the night off? Things have tapered off, and Jen should be here soon..."
Jeremy glanced towards the man, and sighed, giving her a crooked sort of smile. "You've got my number. If he does anything that you don't like, you knee him in the balls and call me, I'll put him in a hurt locker, alright, doll?"
She gave him a smile and began untying her apron. "Thanks, Jeremy." She hurried back down the bar and gestured slightly with her head. "Let's take a walk."
His mis-matched eyes widened and he gave a faint smile, standing and sticking his hands into his pockets. "Yes, my dear..." He held the door open for her, watching as she grabbed her sweater and purse. The scrutiny caused odd little thrills to run through her. Once the door was closed behind them, he offered his hand to her. "There's a river walk not far from here." He offered.
She looked down at his hand and lifted her own, hesitating a bit before she rested it upon his. She saw intense pleasure in his eyes and couldn't help the shiver that worked though her body. First contact. During those thirteen hours, he'd never set a hand upon her, however now...She laced her fingers through his own, looking up into his eyes, uncertainly.
He gave her a boyish grin, tugging her along.
The river walk was lovely, the moon reflected on the water. For a long time, they walked in silence, until finally, he turned towards her, pulling her to a stop. "Sarah-"
"I'm sorry." She said softly. "I didn't realize my words would...I didn't mean to, you understand-"
He rested a finger gently against her lips, pulling her close. "You had no way of knowing, my dear. It's not important." He took his hand away, lacing his fingers through her other hand. "How have you been, Sarah? I must say the last place I thought I'd see you again was some place like this."
She laughed weakly. "Better since I've been here. I...was engaged for awhile. Just before I decided to leave he called it off, said I was...not grounded enough." Her voice was a little bitter. "The theater troupe I was in fell went bankrupt, and I was laid off from work. It's been...rough." She admitted.
He smiled faintly. "Sounds like rough is putting it lightly, precious." He searched her face for a long moment before he spoke again. "That boy who left you...he did not deserve you." He said softly. "You deserve much better than someone who cannot appreciate you for who you are."
She felt her cheeks color and lowered her face. "So..." Her voice cracked. "How...have you been? Since leaving the Underground?"
"Tired." His voice was wry. "As I mentioned, my ability to use magic has been fading over time. Rather soon, I suspect I'll start aging like a mortal again as well." He sighed faintly, looking past her, or perhaps into the past. "It might come as a surprise, however, I'm rather relieved that they no longer wished for me to be king. It was a lonely existence and here at least I can find someone to have an intelligent conversation with."
She examined his face for a long moment, seeing the relaxed way he held himself. "Jareth? Can I ask you a question?" She saw interest in his eyes as they returned to hers. "It's been on my mind since...well, for awhile. What you said, right before I got Toby back...was it just a ruse to distract me? Or did you mean it?" As she watched, his face grew guarded.
He extracted his hands from her own, resting them back on the railing behind him, leaning against it. "Whatever does it matter? Obviously it wasn't on your mind too much, for you took the time to become engaged-"
She flinched, biting her lip. She backed away from him several steps, putting more space between them. She couldn't help but feel hurt, even while her brain understood why he might be angered by her asking. "You have no idea what was on my mind!" She snapped, digging through her purse and pulling out a tattered sketchbook, throwing it at his chest.
He caught it reflexively, looking down at it, curious. He glanced up at her and then back at the book. After a moment, he slowly opened it, and she saw his eyes widen. Her breathing was ragged and she tried to reign in her runaway feelings. She watched him flip through the pages faster and faster, until his eyes rose again to her own. She reached out, snatching the book away and stuffing it back in her purse. She found she had difficulty meeting his gaze once again.
His hands touched her face gently, lifting her face so he could look at her. She squeezed her eyes shut, unable to look at him. "Sarah." His voice was deep, commanding. "Look at me, precious."
Finally, she forced her eyes open, looking up into his face. Those mis-matched eyes stared down at her, stunned. "I know I hurt your pride, but can you imagine for a moment how much it costs me to ask, not knowing your answer?!" She reached up, trying to break free of his grasp.
"Oh, precious, how is it possible you were as haunted by me as I was by you?" He asked quietly. His thumbs gently stroked her cheeks and he slid his hands back and tangled his fingers into her hair. "It was both ruse and truth, Sarah. If the thirteen hours ran out, I could have both you and Toby, however I wanted you to stay there because you wanted to be there, with me. Not because you didn't have a choice."
She stilled, looking up at him. Her heart was hammering away in her chest and she could feel his pulse where his wrists were pressed against the sides of her neck. "I...I wanted to stay. But I had to fix what I'd done." Her voice remained a broken whisper. "You bewitched me, and I was never able to have a proper relationship with anyone again. You were always there, in my mind, and no one here could measure up..."
He pressed his forehead against her own. "Ah, Sarah-mine. What a pair of fools we've turned out to be. If we could go back to the Underground, I would make you my queen, and we'd live forever surrounded by those horrible, foul, mischievous creatures, and drive each other nuts for all eternity." He gave her a faint smirk. "I can't offer you a crown now, precious, but I would like to see you again."
"If we could go back, would you? Or would you rather stay here?"
He looked at her, his eyes interested. "I haven't the faintest, my dear. Although admittedly, the idea of leading a double life is rather appealing. Sharing time between the Above and Underground, with you by my side where ever I may go, and the funds from the vaults would go far in providing us with quite a bit of Above travel. Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean." He smiled faintly, a twinkle of amusement in his gaze. "Admittedly, I don't truly care, as long as I can have some of your time."
"Jareth. Shut up and kiss me."
He blinked in surprise and his lips curved into a faint smile. "As you wish, precious." He leaned down, claiming her lips. Sarah felt her world go end over end and lifted her hand, gripping his shoulders. His mouth slanted across her own and his tongue traced the seam of her lips, requesting entry. She granted it, moaning softly, sliding her arms back and wrapping them around his neck and pulling him closer still. He chuckled, breaking the kiss and wrapping his arms snuggling around her waist. He rested his forehead against her own again, smiling and smiling, quite unable to stop. "And you, Sarah-mine? If we could go back, would you come with me?"
She gave a small smile, trying to catch her breath. "Are you proposing? When we just ran into each other again a few hours ago?"
"Sarah, I've loved you for seven years, I'm not about to let you walk out of my arms again. And I can promise you that while your last suitor could not appreciate your nature, I can and do." He smiled down at her wickedly. "I would like very much to show you how much I can appreciate you..."
She lowered her face, blushing shyly. "Maybe I'd like to see how much as well..."
The wicked smile became a leer. "Perhaps I should accommodate you, then, my sweet." He wrapped his arms around her tightly. "Say you'll be mine, Sarah."
His words caused a tingle to rush through her. "I thought you already knew I've been yours from the start." She leaned back, staring up at him and smiling her own matching wicked little grin. She inclined her head to the side and tugged him down, her eyes shining. "Let's change the ending of the story, Jareth. The Goblin King comes back into the girl's life, and requests she spend her life with him, wherever the wind takes them."
His smirk broadened. "The girl consents and they embark on their next great adventure." He offered, his eyes shining with mischief. "It should be hair raising."
"I wouldn't have it any other way." She smiled broadly, accepting his kiss and tightening her arms around his neck.
AN: May wind up longer. May not. Just a little bit of fun fluffiness. I wanted to leave it up to everyone else if Sarah and Jareth returned to the Underground or lived normal mortal lives. I've read loads of Jareth as a Fae/etc, and I like trying other things now and then, so this one he's from the Above, too XD I hope everyone enjoyed it. ^_^