Written for celticoak

"Why in the blazes do you have a dead plant in your doorway?" The smug voice drifting from her living room made Sarah pause in the middle of her baking and she turned to find the Goblin King lounging against the doorjamb, arms folded, glaring at the offending foliage. She chuckled lightly at the image he made.

"That's not just any plant, it's mistletoe."

"That does nothing to explain why you've taken to decorating with dead things, Sarah my dear."

She just refrained from rolling her eyes, knowing his highness wouldn't take that well at all. She should have known that Underground customs would be entirely different from her own. It made her slightly anxious about just sorts of odd festivities she was getting herself into that evening.

"It's just something for the holidays. Tradition holds that two people standing under it must kiss."

Something sparkled in his eyes and she knew immediately she should have made something up, told him anything but the truth. "Well then, by all means, join me," he said, sweeping his arm out in a gesture of welcome.

Taking a step backward she shook her head. "Thanks, but I'll pass." Still smiling she took the two steps to her kitchen in the tiny apartment she now rented. "Just let me grab the cookies and then we can be off. Don't want to leave the goblins unattended for too long."

"Yes," he agreed with a look of long suffering. "Can't leave the cretins to destroy the few breakable objects left in the castle that have withstood their earlier rampages."

Grabbing her package together she shuffled over toward him. Touch wasn't precisely necessary for him to transport but he wasn't about to let her in on that little tidbit. Facing her squarely he put one hand on each shoulder and then the world around them blurred, coming together piece by glimmering piece until they were surrounded by a cacophony of sound.

Sarah winced at the change in decibel level but when she tried to pull away in order to pass out her goodies Jareth held her firm. Looking up he pointed. "It appears as if we are standing underneath some of your dead plant. I believe you said some kissing was in order?"

A goblin, ostensibly involved in some sort of live-bowling where he was a pin who'd just gotten knocked away, flew rather forcibly into Sarah, sending her skidding backward. While she retained her feet, just barely, Jareth's hold on her had been broken and when she looked up she was most definitely in a mistletoe-free zone.

"Sorry," she called out sweetly, not missing the irritated look on Jareth's face. "Better luck next time."

And so the game began.

Every few minutes she would turn to find herself face to face with the Goblin King, another piece of mistletoe hanging seemingly in thin air, yet somehow she kept managing to evade him. First a group of faeries took a shine to one and absconded with it, then Sir Didymus' daring joust made commotion enough for both of them to be distracted momentarily, giving Sarah the opportunity to take the necessary two steps away.

It went on and on until not only was half the entire throne room covered in mistletoe but she was conveniently backed into a corner. She gulped, knowing nothing could save her now. No distraction would be big enough to pull him away with that look on his face and even if another goblin bowled into her she'd just be shoved even further against the wall she had her back to.

Even as he advanced on her though she managed to smile at him. The game was still on. He may have thought he'd won, especially given the incredibly smug smile gracing his insufferably pretty lips, but she still had plenty of tricks up her sleeve.

"Very well then," she sighed, and though she tried very hard to look cowed Jareth could see right through that. He knew she enjoyed their games just as much as he did – even if she did drive him to the brink of madness on occasion. They'd been dancing around each other for years though and his patience was just about at an end.

Lifting her hands she placed one on his left cheek and the other on the side of his neck, holding him in place. "Now don't move," she whispered, her breath already fanning against his skin, guaranteeing his compliance. Pulling his head down she gingerly moved forward, brushing her lips across his cheek and the smallest corner of his mouth.

Frustrated didn't even begin to describe his mood when she pulled back. "No pouting," she admonished, laughter thick in her voice. "I never said what kind of kiss it had to be. All sorts of people get stuck under here together – you can't really require a full kiss when I could easily be standing next to a family member or a friend's boyfriend."

Without a word Jareth spun and stalked away from her and she knew the respite would be a short one. He would most definitely be planning his next move.

It was only then she noticed something absolutely priceless and, though she knew she shouldn't and that there'd be hell to pay afterward, she couldn't help herself.

Trying to keep a sedate pace to the throne, instead of running lest she miss the opportunity, she caught up to him, the smug grin on her face very similar to the one he'd worn earlier. "Well, Goblin King, it does appear you've gotten yourself caught under the mistletoe again."

His eyes lit with glee until he noticed she stood entirely too far away for his comfort. A sinking feeling began in his gut as he looked around him, finding Sir Didymus standing nearly under his feet.

Looking up he glared at the messenger. "Sarah, you cannot be serious."

"I most certainly am," she said, crossing her arms in an attempt to look stern. "Rules are rules, after all. If you want me to play by them then you must be willing to as well."

"But I am the Goblin King," he stated, every ounce of haughtiness he possessed thrown into the claim.

"Yes, but I am the only one you can play these games with. Unless you have a previously unknown penchant for chickens I should know about…" She tapped her chin as if considering the possibility.

"Sarah," he ground out, his voice gravelly with how loudly he was grinding his teeth.

She ignored him in favor of turning to their attentive audience. "Sir Didymus, did you happen to notice all the decorations Jareth has been kind enough to hang on the ceiling?"

The little knight brightened immediately. "Indeed I did, my lady. His highness is a most worthy decorator and he certainly went out of his way this year to cheer the place up. I must say this is the most festive holiday I can remember, even better than the year he decided to string up the goblins by their feet as live piñatas."

Sarah's brows rose at that but she plunged on, refusing to look at Jareth lest she lose either her nerve or her cool and burst into peals of laughter. "Did you know there's a custom behind the decorations he's put up?"

"There is?" Didymus' response was so excited she was surprised he wasn't bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Did you hear that, Ambrosius? Oh, my dear lady, we must hear about it."

"Sarah…" That grating voice again and she knew she was past just skirting danger, she was actively seeking it out.

"Indeed. It's all about spreading the Christmas spirit and inspiring friendship. Any two individuals caught under one of the decorations together must share a kiss, and since Jareth was the one to place each piece of mistletoe and considering his majesty is never careless with where he steps," a sidelong glance at the individual in question, "he must have plotted this carefully and wanted to show his appreciation for having such a dedicated protector of the kingdom."

"Your Majesty?" Sir Didymus turned wide, awe-struck eyes to the Goblin King and Jareth knew he was done for.

Wishing to get the objectionable activity done and over with as soon as possible, he picked the knight up by the scruff of his neck and placed a lightning-quick peck on the crown of his head. Sarah doubted he'd made enough contact for it to even be considered a real kiss. Letting go he made a face like he smelled something bad but Didymus was too enraptured by the gesture to notice.

Slowly he turned to bend a murderous glare on Sarah and with one wave of his hand the room was suddenly falling away from them, a swirling confusion of reality that filled her with vertigo as much as a sense of wonder.

Her vision came back in bits and pieces, a piece of flora there, a patch of moonlight there, until she realized Jareth had transported the two of them to a solarium of sorts. There were flowers and fruit trees, the entire room encased by some sort of invisibility she'd never seen before. The texture and reflection didn't seem quite right for glass so she guessed it must be magic of some sort.

She snorted. As if it would be anything else in this place, anything less magnificent for his majesty.

As her last piece of vision popped back into proper place she finally heard the splashing, twisting around until she saw Jareth stooped over a pedestal of water – that seemed to have been appropriated from a bathroom for just this occasion – vigorously washing his mouth off.

He paused in his cleansing long enough to glare at her. "I taste of fur," he declared morosely before returning his face to the water, scrubbing even harder.

"Oh come on, at least I didn't wait until you were standing next to Hoggle."

He stared at her in abject horror. "A small mercy, to say the least."

Sarah had enough of a sense of self-preservation to know not to laugh, despite how hilarious she might find the situation. She'd already gotten herself into enough trouble for her earlier trick and she knew payback was just around the corner.

Sure enough no sooner had she stifled the last of her chortles than Jareth stood up straight, deceptively still, then turned on her. He stalked toward her and while his gait was all lethal grace the look in his eyes was chilling. Either that or it was burning her from the inside out, but she couldn't quite tell and had bigger things to worry about than figuring it out since she had a Goblin King ready to pounce at her.

She backed up, trying hard not to feel like she was backing down at the same time.

"Hold on!" She put a hand up flat against his chest to halt his advance. Leaves from a low-hanging branch brushed across her temple and she realized he'd managed to maneuver them beneath yet more foliage. "This tree may be green and leafy but it is most certainly not mistletoe."

He smiled, all teeth and predatory intent. "My dear, dear, Sarah…I do not need a plant in order to take what I want."

While she would have liked to scoff at such an arrogant statement she wasn't able to as he'd quickly swooped in and claimed her mouth with his own. At that point she wasn't able to think of anything other than how soft his lips were against her own when they looked so hard at all other times. It had to be the scowling – she'd have to get him to lay off on that. She rather liked the appeal of his soft lips.

With a hungry growl he pulled her closer when she wrapped her arms around his neck, his kiss deepening when she didn't push him away or offer any snide comments. He reveled in her surrender, even when he knew it came at the cost of his own. Didn't matter, he looked forward to the next step of the game just as much.

Sarah pulled back on a breathless gasp, panting and face flushed. Though Jareth was a bit winded as well and appeared slightly flushed – it was so hard to tell in moonlight though – he still wore that damnably superior smirk.

Well, two could play at that game.

When he took a step away to allow her the smallest of personal bubbles she wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. "Ick, now I taste of fur."

He didn't say it aloud but his annoyed look spoke volumes. See, I told you so.

"Since it's your fault, after all, I think you should be the one to help me remedy it."

He looked less than amused. "I fail to see how this is my responsibility when you're the one who forced my hand into kissing the little fuzzball in the first place."

Laughing low, she ribbed, "Do I really have to spell out an invitation?" She slid a hand up his shoulder, tugging lightly on the ends of his hair. His smirk melted into the first genuine smile she'd ever seen and her heart jolted at the sight of it. Not content to wait for him any longer she pulled his head down to hers again, kissing him soundly, and silencing any rejoinders either of them might have had.

A good hour later they decided they'd better make their way back to the throne room to check all the damage that had been done during their absence. What they did see upon returning though had them surprised speechless for a good minute.

"What, in the name of the Underground, are they doing?"

There were motley little groups of goblins collected underneath each piece of magical mistletoe Jareth had left strung around the room. Only thing was they were taking running leads and head-butting each other.

Sarah couldn't hold back any longer and collapsed into laughter, drawing the attention of the few occupants closest to her. They gave her only a cursory glance before returning to their activities.

"Oh, my, goodness," she gasped out. "I think they're imitating your stunning enactment with Sir Didymus and figured that must be how the tradition works."

Indeed, when he looked closer Jareth could see they were even holding each other by their necks when they initiated the bizarre ritual. Sighing heavily he dropped his head into his hand, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'm perpetually surrounded by idiots."

"You might want to be thankful about that." When he looked up Sarah's face was tinged green. "Can you imagine what would have happened had they gotten the chance to see the real tradition?"

The mental image made Jareth blanche as well. "Yes, there is that."

It was then a pudgy little goblin bumbled up to them. "Yer Majesty, you isn't playing?" He pointed up at the mistletoe hanging above Jareth and Sarah, causing the Goblin King to groan. Raising his hand he paused in the middle of what would have been a very graceful display of magic when Sarah caught his wrist.

"You might not want to do that," she cautioned. "Get rid of it all and there might be a minor revolt. Besides, then they'd likely turn to you in search of new entertainments."

He turned to her with those penetrating, mismatched eyes. "If it stays though we'll have to abide by the tradition as well. They won't let us rest otherwise," he warned, the corners of his mouth lifting.

"I am not head-butting you." When he opened his mouth to reply she cut him off quickly. "I'm not kissing you in front of them either."

"Well then, we'll just have to see what we can do about that," Jareth replied, glamouring them away, leaving the little goblin covered in glitter and gaping after them.