Slotted initially to be Chapter Six of 'we are such stuff...'
HOWEVER. It ended up not fitting well with the story continuum, and went frolicking about in a direction all its own, heedless of my (many, many) objections.
[don't own the maze or the shop unstuck in time, let alone the drunk time witch or the king with the pants.]
----to the gods/they kill us for their sport.
"You promised me the girl." Intones the (recently deposed) Goblin King, the sharpness of his anger overlaid by careful tact and politesse.
"So I did," Yuuko accedes, pensive, bracing herself as she throws back the proffered goblin ale, choking somewhat less-than-elegantly at the stiff, dusty-bitter flavor (and dost she detect a note of curdled toadstool?), lifting a fine brow when she thinks she may also have tasted chicken. "But," she begins, voice hoarse from a newly raw throat, "I do not recall that you asked me to keep her." The veiled lividity slips from his countenance, softening the sharp planes of his face, sloughing the tension from his shoulders. Jareth lifts two fingers (gloved, as ever) to his regal brow, pinching his nose in aggravation, one of the myriad mortal affectations he's acquired. Wicked amusement thrills through her.
"Semantics," he drawls, blandly incredulous. "An eternity's worth of granting maundering wishes to blundering mortal fools, ridiculing their endless linguistic ineptitudes, and here I am, thwarted by this very incompetence." He heaves a long-suffering sigh that manages somehow still to be dignified. "Do you know," he says at length, "that I find irony to be positively insufferable?"
"Mm." Yuuko murmurs dreamily, barely listening, caught by the sudden insight that this brew is very probably (inadvertently) bewitched. She supposes she should hardly be astonished; the magic of the labyrinth is pervasive, formidable, and capricious, as mischievously wild and willful as its king. The real shock would've been discovering the ale to be precisely what it seemed: an innocent (if musty) inebriating beverage.
"This is," he concludes, looking considerably unhappy to be saying so at all, "decidedly unfair." She considers him thoughtfully, and the fey glow of his features…swims somewhat in her field of vision. It renders him a bit soft at the edges, and she thinks distractedly that he's really so very pretty.
"Yes," she agrees fluidly, which isn't surprising since she feels rather more fluid than solid at the moment, "yes, it is." Her fingers alight on a pair of half-moon glasses (singularly impervious to the wear of time and elemental attrition) perched at the edge of her divan, dark introspections surfacing unbidden. "These things usually are." Her smile is humorless, openly false in spiteful rebellion against the memory of Clow's prettily lying smile. (The selfish, unforgivable fool.) "Mortals." She grumbles, and the proud king nods his silent assent, imperious in his cold poise.
He is, she muses, as inscrutably mysterious as the maze he governs.
"Patience, though, Goblin King." Even Yuuko will not invoke his given name; the Seelie are exceedingly touchy about such matters as the Power of Names, and Jareth is no exception. "Humans are notorious for revisiting their favorite mistakes." A flash of cruel anticipation gleams in that mismatched gaze, a malicious humor at once bereft of pity and desperately hopeful.
"Oh?" His voice bows, the beat of wings in a land of perpetual night, and in his eyes, beyond the sighing fragments of dreams (an infinity of them, ghosts enough of dead ones to match every wish she's ever granted), Yuuko perceives in him the sad, grasping, terrified ambition of an immortal who has fallen in love with a beautiful child whose place in Forever is despairingly evanescent, there and gone in a wink, as if imagined.
It is an unfortunate disposition they share.
"Precious Sarah means to return to my labyrinth, then?" She swallows the remainder of her enchanted drink, which (now, curiously, instead of burning,) tingles pleasantly in her throat and buoys her mood substantially, lifting her free of her dismal insight. (Bless this questionable beverage.)
She tilts a fiendish smile at her fae companion.
"Sarah Williams would more willingly throw herself from a tower than wittingly return to the untold dangers of your labyrinth, Your Majesty. However," She ducks toward him, wobbling a little, "providing the proper…enticement, I'm sure she could be convinced to…perform an encore, so to speak."
Jareth's laughter is wonderfully evocative, she decides, like autumn, rich and full and lovely.
"Enticement." He echoes, cheerfully sinister. "Enticement I can do." The tiered fabric of his cloak whispers, sibilant, as he folds his arms over his chest. "What is this promise to cost me?" He queries, and she discerns, in the hard, steady arrogance of his gaze, that he is willing to pay whatever prices she names, no matter the cost. It is a wondrous, daunting thing, indeed, to be loved by such a creature, untouched by the ravages of time and incorrigibly immortal.
"It's less a promise than a premonition, Your Grace. And for that, this drink will suffice." She skims a finger over crude divots in the coarse, gibbous earthenware decanter at the center of the table (perpetually full with drink), and he chuckles, a captivating, ominous cadence.
"Then, my lady," he sweeps his pale, plumed cape behind him and she finds him suddenly on his feet, "I bid you farewell." In the instant following, he cuts her an elegant bow, perfunctory obeisance from a man increasingly unaccustomed to social niceties (when one treats daily with dwarves and goblins, the so-named dregs of the Underworld, who could expect anything more?), and vanishes in a puff of feathers.
That night, she cannot stop herself from dreaming dreams (the damnable, useless, luminous things), in which Clow is damned to live (instead of her) with the vast weight of eternity and she (instead of he) dies, smiling her sphinx smile, and cleaves her soul in twain.
(But when she awakes she is Endless: again, always, after all, and his death is a wasted thing.)
I doubt seriously Jareth would ever be caught dead actually soliciting someone (even Yuuko, badass though she may be) for Sarah, but I thought it might be an interesting device, making the initial wish to have her and letting Yuuko take care of the details as far as the Getting Her to the Labyrinth is concerned, since we're assuming the Goblin King isn't allowed to go about abducting lovelies from the Aboveground at his whim.
This fic is a product of my flailing love for Yuuko and my third (marathon!) run-through of KL Morgan's peerless A Forfeit of Dreams, in which Sarah is, in fact, 'enticed' into returning to the Labyrinth for a second go at beating it. (Oi, I'm one of those creatures who writes fanfiction for fanfiction. There is something very wrong with me.) This can certainly stand alone, but if you're bothering to read it, you should definitely treat yourself to Morgan's fic --one of the best the Laby fandom has to offer.
Coffee to ye' all.