Disclaimer: The only thing I claim to own is the insane idea that formed this story. Everything else is borrowed. (Except for the goblin foods that i made up out of thin air. and in all honesty… Jim henson can have that too.)

Taken For Granted

Chapter Three

"I was informed that you ignored a wish," Jareth stated as he appeared in the Goblin King's throne room.

"That is correct," Gorn answered, handing a goblin some parchments. The servant bowed in a crisp, sharp motion, then turned to leave. Jareth stepped forward as the advisor left the hall.

"I don't recall you ever ignoring a wish before, Gorn," Jareth confronted carefully. "Would you care to explain why you ignored this one?"

"I can't spare the goblins to entertain a wisher in the kingdom at this time," Gorn explained, standing from his chair to stretch, then leisurely stroll over to the window. "We're at a breaking point with the development of my city."

"It's been long enough, Gorn, don't you think?" Jareth quipped questioningly, falling into step next to his friend as they reached the window. "She should have been returned home by now."

"She works hard, Jareth," Gorn complimented, gazing out the window. It took him a second to locate Sarah within the city, but when he did he wasn't surprised to find her staring up in their direction. "Perhaps you should reconsider keeping her." He turned to look at the other king. "She asks on your behalf often since the feast," Gorn informed him slyly.

Jareth scoffed, turning away from the window altogether. "She dreams of me as well, Goblin King," Jareth retorted, chuckling without humor. "We both know she wants nothing to do with me, despite her flushed cheeks and nervousness whenever I am near."

"I think you take too much for granted." Gorn turned from the window to look at Jareth directly. "She's of age to keep now, in case you weren't aware."

Jareth whipped his attention towards his friend then steeled his features into a stoic expression. "Then you keep her," Jareth quipped sourly, tired of Gorn's insistent meddling. "I have better things to waste my time with than a mortal girl."

Gorn sighed inwardly at his friend's biting response. He had clearly noticed Jareth's initial reaction at hearing that Sarah was of age, only for him to adeptly cover it with indifference. For three years Gorn had planned and connived to get these two close to one another, only to be thwarted. Most often it had been Sarah's intuition that had foiled his plans, only for Jareth to turn his back on the opportunities when Sarah would have been vulnerable and caught unawares.

But Gorn remained persistent, patient, and diligent. He saw how they watched each other, how she asked on Jareth's behalf, and knew full well that Jareth watched the girl within his magic crystals. With one final effort, Gorn had prepared his last attempt. If this one failed as all the others had, then he would return the girl to her world, and let them suffer the consequences for their stubbornness.

"I have business in another kingdom," Gorn informed Jareth abruptly, stepping away from the window to pause by his friend's side. "I would ask you to oversee things in my absence, if you would, Lord of the Labyrinth."

"What about your breaking point for development?" Jareth asked, leaning back on his heels while turning to address Gorn directly.

"Something unexpected has arose that I need to address personally. Can I trust you, this time, to not answer any wishes in my absence?"

"I give you my word, Gorn," Jareth replied evenly. "The last one left a bitter taste in my mouth."

"Very good," Gorn exclaimed with relief, having not been certain Jareth would agree to this favor. "I am greatly appreciative of your generosity, Lord of the Labyrinth." He strode a few paces before turning to face Jareth. "My goblins have been instructed to heed your command, and I expect to return within five days." The Goblin King started to slowly fade from sight. "Oh, one last thing. I've given Sarah her own chambers in the castle, and she roams freely. She wasn't informed of you being here, but I'm sure she already knows, none the less."

"Gorn!" Jareth called out bitterly at the other king's slight handedness, but he was already gone. With a deep sigh of resignation, Jareth strode over to the throne and plopped himself in the oversized chair, flinging his legs over one arm while letting his head fall back over the other. "Five days of being in close proximity to 'her'," he mused aloud. "Fate help me."

"King can dance with girl like last time," one of the goblins stated from nearby. Jareth rolled his head to the side and opened his eyes to see said goblin waltzing in a small circle in front of the throne with his arms held out in the air. "She likes to dance, teaches goblins."

'…like last time,' the words echoed in his head. A smirk slowly crept upon his face as he lithely swung his legs to face forward. 'When I was acting Goblin King.'

When the little goblin spun around to say something else to the king, he tripped over his feet and almost fell down at the throne suddenly being empty. "Guess he not like to dance anymore."

XxXxX

Sarah paused in her work, glancing around as a strange feeling washed over her. She almost expected to see dark bilious clouds looming overhead, yet the skies remained clear and blue. "Gidget, what's happening?" she asked the goblin who worked next to her.

"The Goblin King has left the city," she informed Sarah simply. "He goes to another kingdom on business."

"Oh," Sarah responded, taking a breath of relief. Then realization dawned on her. "Wait a minute, doesn't Jareth act as goblin king while Gorn is away?"

"Yes," the goblin answered nonplussed. "We are expected to heed his command same as Gorn's."

"Oh, no," Sarah whispered, feeling the heat of panic swell within her. "I can't stay here. I have to leave," she rambled, getting to her feet. "I have to…"

"Hide?" Jareth's voice taunted from behind her.

Sarah spun around with an expression of terror on her face, flattening her back against the stone wall behind her.

"What could Gorn possibly have told you, I wonder," Jareth mused questioningly as he lithely moved closer to her, leaning his forearm on the wall next to Sarah's shoulder. "To cause you to fear me so?"

Her eyes focused on the medallion around Jareth's neck, a medallion that actually belonged to Gorn, and now seemed alien resting upon Jareth's chest. Pooling on all her inner strength, she lifted her gaze to meet his mismatched, captivating eyes. "I don't fear you, I was simply caught off guard," she lied with bravado.

"I doubt that very much," he chuckled with slight humor, clearly sensing her attempt to deceive him. "I was told that you celebrated a birthday," he whispered near her ear, leaning so close that his cheek almost touched hers.

"I've had three while being here, so what?" Sarah breathed in barely a steady voice. His nearness effected her like never before, especially when he got this close.

"So, I owe you a gift," he whispered into her ear.

Her breath caught in her throat. She closed her eyes against the effect of the sound of his voice was having on her. "No, thanks," she choked. "Gorn was more than generous with a celebration."

Jareth's first impulse was to push away from her, being stung once more by her rejection of him, her rejection of anything he offered her. But, her reaction to his presence was too obvious for him to ignore. He, too, felt the unaccountable desire that flooded his senses, causing his heart to pound painfully in his chest, his blood race hotly in his veins. A smirk slowly formed on his lips as he placed two gloved fingers under her chin, tilting her face up to his. "But, nothing as personal as this, I'm sure."

She felt his shadow cross her face as he drew closer. She knew he was about to kiss her and both dreaded and wanted it at the same time. Unwittingly her fingers grasped the front of his shirt as his lips gently touched upon hers. It was a brief, fleeting contact, and not at all unpleasant as she had expected. She slowly opened her eyes just as he dipped his head to hers for another taste, causing her to close them once more.

The second kiss was firmer, more arousing as his lips moved over hers. She moaned in her throat with helplessness. She didn't want this. She wanted nothing to do with him. He already had claim over her, and now, as Goblin King, he also had the power over her that she had given to Gorn. But, her head reeled, her mind completely muddled, only his lips upon hers existed, and she found herself responding to his arousing gentleness.

Her tentative response to him was nearly too much to bear. He had expected her to fight, to bite, kick, or at least shove him away as she had done previously when he had cornered her. The overwhelming urge to take her to his private rooms was so strong that he broke the kiss, and rested his forehead against hers while they both drew in ragged breaths.

He closed his eyes in an attempt to fight this overwhelming urge while she opened hers to see her fingers grasping his shirt with white knuckles. She slowly loosened her grip of the material, letting her hands rest flatly upon his chest. She licked at her lips, tasting him with the tip of her tongue as he faded from her sight without comment or challenge.

Sarah slowly sunk to the ground on weak knees, her back sliding along the wall until her bottom reached the dirt. She breathed unevenly as she stared unseeingly straight ahead. That had definitely not been a reaction she had expected. As her breaths evened she became aware of Gidget calling her with concern in her voice. Blinkingly, she turned her head to look up at the little goblin.

"I guess you not hide fast enough, hey?" she joked with kind, knowing eyes.

Sarah laughed in short uneven spurts as she got to her feet. "Yea, I guess not," she returned with good humor, but couldn't help glance towards the castle while dusting herself off.

XxXxX

'He owns me,' Sarah mused after settling herself in her bed, her covers securely around her shoulders. 'Everything about him draws me to him,' she continued thinking silently. 'I can't stop thinking about him. I dream of him. I want to know more about him.' She rolled over to her side, preparing herself for a long sleepless night. How could she sleep knowing he was in the same castle? Knowing he was so close that she could feel his presence like the heat from a fire, warm and inviting.

She wondered, and not for the first time, where he was from. Where did he live if not the castle beyond the goblin city? Did he have servants to care for him as Gorn did, as a king should? Or was he truly all alone as rumor told? How is he the Lord of the Labyrinth and yet not king of the goblins? What had happened to her that she feels like this towards him? Would she feel this way towards Gorn if she had defeated him to get her brother back?

No. Gorn had made it perfectly clear that he would have left her in the oubliette, at least until her time was up, and that Jareth had let her defeat him. 'He won the moment you stepped into his labyrinth.' Gorn had told her of Jareth.

'Why?' she asked herself for the thousandth time. 'Why would he let me think I won? Why would he let me go home? Why does his kiss still linger on my lips when its been over ten hours!' She placed her fingertips to her lips, tracing them with confusion. They felt as though he had literally just pulled away from her, tingling and aching for more. "What have you done to me, Jareth?" she asked quietly into the dark room.

XxXxX

'Oh, by the Fate's, what have I done?' Jareth asked himself for the hundredth time since he had kissed Sarah. There was no denying the attraction, the yearning, the desire that had sparked between them. He had chosen her from among thousands of other wishers. He had allowed her to defeat his labyrinth, had offered her everything only for her to reject him, to take the baby and go home, and then return.

'Her return,' he thought with sudden clarity, straightening his back as he sat within the arch of the open stone window. 'She had summoned me!' He turned a thoughtful gaze towards the interior of the throne room. 'What had she wanted that neither Gorn nor Sarah will tell me?' With his mind set, he gracefully removed himself from the sill, and strode with purposeful steps in the direction of Sarah's private chambers.

The feeling of his presence steadily grew stronger. Sarah quickly scrambled from the bed and donned her robe, wrapping it tightly around herself just as the door opened wide to show his silhouette in the doorway, cast by the torches in the corridor behind him.

"Going somewhere?" Jareth asked casually, stepping into the room while lighting some sconces with his magic to give light in the room.

"I woke up from a bad dream," she answered in a wavering voice. "I was just going to get some water."

"Really?" he quipped skeptically, arching an elegant brow disbelievingly. A glass appeared in his hand as he strode towards her. It took all that Sarah possessed to remain in place as he drew closer. "Gorn told me that you could sense my presence when I was near," he informed her, holding out the glass towards her. "I had previously disregarded it." He lowered the timbre of his voice as he continued. "Until now."

"I guess you didn't take back those gifts after all," she responded with a shaky smile, taking the offered glass to drink healthily from it, hoping it would calm her nerves, even it was only water.

He waited silently for her to finish drinking, crossing his arms over his chest as he regarded her intently. She may have been abed, but she hadn't been sleeping. He could see it in her eyes, by the smudge of dark circles under them from lack of sleep. He appreciated the changes in her physical appearance while he waited. She had matured beautifully, her body had filled out in all the right places, giving her exquisite curves.

"What do you want, Jareth?" she finally asked, terrified of what his answer could be by the expression in his eyes as he looked at her.

"I want to know why you summoned me," he answered her simply in an authoritative tone, bringing his mind back to his purpose of intruding her room.

"I didn't summon you," she replied warily, not sure what trick he was planning. "I told you, I had a…"

"I'm referring to the night of your first visit, Sarah," he interrupted with slight impatience. "Since your return it has become a mystery for 'why' you had summoned me, the Goblin King, after you were returned home. I want to know for what reason you had summoned me."

Sarah diverted her eyes from him, turning her head to the side while swallowing hard for an answer. It had been Gorn that had lied to Jareth about her being back in the Underground, but she never corrected that misconception, either. She thought frantically for what to tell him. Would he be angry if he knew the truth? Would he start a war with Gorn? What would happen to the goblins, to the other creatures in the labyrinth if they had to battle against each other? The Goblin City wouldn't survive if it was cut off from the labyrinth. It would destroy two kings who called each other friends.

Jareth became guarded and defensive as she struggled to give him an answer. Something wasn't right, he could sense it from within her. Her breathing had become shallow, her eyes darted along the floor frantically in a panic. "What have you done, Sarah?" he asked in a low even tone.

She lifted her gaze from the floor to meet his steady, unyielding eyes, while hers filled with uncertainty and dread. "I've done nothing," she answered him. "I didn't summon you, or the Goblin King that night. Gorn brought me back to heal what I had broken."

"Did he now?" Jareth voiced with curiosity, raising his brows slightly. "Those were his exact words?"

Sarah nodded. "He told me he would keep me here forever if that's how long it took me to fix everything."

Jareth turned away from her, hiding the wistful smile that graced his face. 'You crafty old goblin,' Jareth thought fondly of his friend.

"Jareth, please," she pleaded, reaching out to him to place a hand on his arm. "Don't start a war because of me! I'll do whatever you want! I swear! Just, don't let anyone get hurt!"

"You honestly think I would start a war upon my neighboring friend because of a girl?" he questioned with an amused lilt in his voice, turning his head to peer down his nose at her from over his shoulder. He could see it in her eyes that she believed him capable of just that. The ever formidable, fearful king. 'She doesn't know you,' Gorn had pointed out to him more than once. 'She's only seen the fearful, commanding side of you, not the being who desperately needs companionship.' Jareth turned away from her, warring with himself internally. Her short-sightedness of him hurt, while her sworn oath to do his bidding still rang in his ears. He briskly strode across the room towards the door.

"Jareth, please, don't!" she cried after him, thinking the worse case scenario. "I'll do whatever you want!"

He stopped on his heels and turned back to face her, retracing his steps. "What would you do if I offered you another chance?" he barked at her in a forceful tone. Confusion filled her expression while she took an inadvertent step backwards at his approach. "I am King Jareth, Lord of the Labyrinth, and at the moment, Goblin King." He relaxed his stance somewhat as he reached her, stopping just a pace away from her. His voice lost its sharp edge as he continued. "I can release you of this obligation, send you back home to the Aboveworld, never to be daunted by any of us again." He shifted his head regally to look down at her. "What would you do if I offered you a second chance?"

Sarah was completely flabbergasted. She hadn't thought of what would happen when she finished her obligation to the Goblin King. She had simply conformed to this kingdom, with these creatures, without a second thought, without any regret. She had made more friends and liked living there. She realized she was thinking too long when Jareth began to pace before her with his hands behind his back, watching her as he moved back and forth in front of her.

"I don't want a second chance," she told him in a low, soft voice, catching her breath at the cold glare he bestowed upon her at her answer. "I don't want to go back," she elaborated, realizing that he had taken her answer as another rejection to him personally. "I want to stay here, in the labyrinth."

The coldness in his eyes warmed dramatically as she explained her herself, only to be replaced with wariness. "But not with me," he surmised evenly, keeping his emotions in check.

Sarah was standing on a threshold, she could feel it. The next thing she said would seal her fate forever, and forever was a very long time in this place. With so much uncertainty and confusion running around in her mind she didn't know what to say. She took a couple steps backwards, turning away from him to slowly walk over to the fireplace.

"I wasn't having a bad dream when you came in," she told him, staring thoughtfully into the glowing embers. "In fact, I was just lying there… thinking, about you." She chanced a glance in his direction to see him quietly watching her, listening to her. "There's so much about you that I don't know. Things I wonder about."

"Such as?" he prompted, wondering if she was stalling for time, being avoidant to his question, or simply wasn't sure how to answer him.

"Such as," she repeated, turning around to look at him fully, shoving her hands into the pockets of her robe. "Where do you live? Do you have a castle? Servants that take care of you like Gorn has? How are you a king, the Lord of the Labyrinth, but you don't rule over the goblin city when it's in the center of the labyrinth?" She looked away, moving towards a sofa nearby. "I've asked Gorn," she told him in a shy voice. "But he just laughed whenever I mentioned your name, so I stopped asking."

"You've been very thoughtful on my behalf, haven't you?" he quipped, feeling a calm wash over him by her questions. She was curious about him. She wanted to know more, which meant that she had an interest. He strode over to the fireplace, and leaned upon the thick stone. "My castle 'is' the labyrinth," he answered her in a peaceable tone. "Just as everything else in my kingdom, you must know what you are looking for in order to see it."

"Like the doorways when you first enter the labyrinth," she surmised with a nod of understanding.

"Yes."

"But, how do you 'hide' a castle? It would be seen towering above everything else, wouldn't it?"

"That depends on your perspective." He pushed away from the wall to cross over to her. "Come, I'll show you," he offered amicably, holding out his hand for her to take.

"I'm not exactly dressed to go cavorting through the labyrinth, Jareth," she remarked uncomfortably with a small chuckle, though tentatively placed her hand in his.

"We're only going to the throne room, Sarah," he assured her, escorting her to her feet with her hand in his. "You can see my castle from here," he stated, both of them suddenly in the throne room. He led her to the window, and pointed out over the labyrinth. "It's right there." He stated with pride.

Sarah searched the moonlit darkness for some sign of a castle in the direction he had pointed, but couldn't see a damn thing. "I guess I'll just take your word for it," she told him hesitantly.

He moved to stand behind her, wrapped an arm around her waist while taking her left hand in his. Folding her pliant fingers until only one stuck out, he raised it into the air, and began to trace an outline in front of her eyes. At first she was too consumed with him being so close, of his arm holding her, of the feel of his body pressed against her back. She could feel the warmth from him, and… then she saw it. The silhouette of a castle looming into the sky as grand as anything she had ever seen.

"How do you hide that?" she asked in utter amazement.

"You take too much for granted, and simply don't see what is right before your eyes. It is easy to see Gorn's castle standing regally above and beyond the labyrinth, so it's not expected for a second castle to be within the same kingdom."

"But, I've been here for years," Sarah countered. "I've looked out this window many times, and I've never…" She chuckled lightly to herself. "No wonder Gorn laughed when I asked where you lived. I was standing right here when I asked him."

"Gorn doesn't like having to explain the obvious," Jareth informed her. "Except to his goblins."

"I've noticed that about him," Sarah replied, nodding in agreement. "I still can't believe there's been a castle there this entire time." She sighed deeply, tracing the castle's silhouette with her eyes while relaxing back against Jareth, folding her arms over his around her waist. "That's why the book specifically states, 'the castle beyond the goblin city'," she mused aloud. "So you would know which one you had to reach. I probably walked right past it, and never knew it.

"Actually, you went the opposite direction to reach my castle," he informed her in a soft tone. "If you had of went left when you first entered my labyrinth, it would have taken you directly to it."

Sarah huffed thoughtfully. "The little worm told me not to go that way," she reminisced. "I never even asked why. I just turned around, and went the other way."

Jareth's gaze shifted from his castle to the young woman in his arms. Bending his head slightly, he caressed her ear with the tip of his nose, curious of what her reaction would be. He felt her breathing change, and she tilted her head slightly to the side. Taking that as encouragement, he bent his head lower to place his lips upon the delicate skin of her neck.

"Why have you feared me so?" he asked between nibbles upon her delicate skin.

"Because you hold a claim over me," she admitted, sharing what Gorn had told her. "Because you let me think I defeated you, you gave me my brother back, and you let me go home."

"And why do you think I did all of those things?"

She shook her head and tried to move away from him. He held her fast, keeping her within his firm embrace. "I don't know. Gorn wouldn't tell me."

"Surely you can figure it out on your own," he encouraged softly. "I may have allowed you to defeat me, but you made your way through my labyrinth yourself."

"Gorn said he would've left me in the oubliette."

"He would have," Jareth readily agreed with a small chuckle. "Just as I have done countless of times. But, I didn't want you in my oubliette, Sarah. I wanted you to willingly stay with me."

"I thought you wanted to hurt me," she admitted. "But, you were so nice to me at the feast, and I have all these feelings whenever you get close that I can't even think straight." She inhaled deeply, leaning back into him with her fingers clutching his arm tightly. She closed her eyes at the feelings he was stirring within her, knowing that this was right, that she truly belonged to him. "I meant what I said," she told him in a breathless voice.

"Which part?" he questioned, pulling back far enough to be able to look upon her face.

"I'll do whatever you want," she whispered, turning her face back and up towards his. "I want to be with you."

He pulled her tighter against his body, leaning over her shoulder to capture her waiting lips with his.

XxXxX

"What! In Fate's name have you done to my city this time?" Gorn bellowed gruffly as he entered his throne room upon his return. "Why is it completely restored? I was hoping to have Sarah rebuild for another two years yet!"

"Gorn," Jareth greeted cheerfully with a smile, swinging his legs to the front of the chair. "Nice to see that you remembered you had a kingdom to rule."

"What has happened?" Gorn asked with sudden suspicion, looking around warily for some clue as to why his friend was in such good spirits. "You didn't answer any wishes in my absence, did you?"

"As a matter of fact, I did," Jareth informed him good naturedly, rising from the throne he skipped down the few steps. "You'll be happy to know that you currently have three more citizens to take care of."

"Three? You answered three wishes? I was barely gone for four days!" he complained, sliding heavily into his chair.

"Actually, it was one wish, three babes. I couldn't pass up the challenge," Jareth stated haughtily.

"You're not telling me something, Lord of the labyrinth," he accused. "What else has happened?"

"Well, besides my taking over the rebuilding of your city, which I completed in two days mind you, the fairy flu almost made it into the kingdom, again. However it was destroyed by an other worldly means which caused the thing to simply fall over dead with no casualties to us at all."

"Fairy flu? Fall over dead?" Gorn asked with disbelief. "What other worldly means do you speak of when it would have taken both our magic combined to simply contain the thing?"

"I believe she called it, chicken soup," he quipped with recollection. "The beast loved every drop of it clear up to its last swallow," he explained enthusiastically. "We're having it stuffed and mounted in my castle."

"She?" Gorn repeated, then began to chuckle. "So, you were able to come to an understanding with Sarah?"

"You could say that," Jareth smirked.

"What else have you done?" Gorn pressed, narrowing his black eyes suspiciously.

"As acting Goblin King, I offered the young woman a second chance to return home."

"No," Gorn breathed with shock. "You didn't!"

"I did," he answered indignantly. "But, as you can expect, she refused my offer."

Gorn groaned with inner turmoil, rubbing between the horns on his head. "Where is she?"

"There," Jareth replied, point out the window. "In my castle." He turned back to Gorn. "It seems she doesn't want to return to the Aboveground, and has made an oath to do whatever I say."

"And you're satisfied with this?"

"I'm very satisfied," Jareth answered with a gleam in his eyes, and a smirk on his lips.

XxXxX

Sarah was about to lift a tray of food when she felt Jareth's presence nearby. Resetting the platter on the linen covered table, she turned around to find both Jareth and Gorn standing in the room. "Goblin King," Sarah greeted pleasantly. "How was your trip?"

"Not nearly as eventful as the goings on around here," he mumbled, taking in all the activity of the servants, the refreshing atmosphere of the labyrinth castle, and the smile that not only touched upon Sarah's face, but rested in her eyes as well, something Gorn had never seen in the girl before.

"I told you she wasn't in the oubliette," Jareth remarked dignified, moving away from his friend to inspect the food tray. Finding something he liked, he took a piece, and popped it in his mouth.

"I'm making some demba," Sarah informed Gorn. "Gidget showed me, again, how to prepare it, but this will be the first time I've made an authentic goblin dish by myself. Would you like to stay, and try some?"

"I would never turn down the chance to try some demba," Gorn replied, seating himself at the table.

"I'll serve some right away," she announced, heading across the hall towards the kitchen. "Oh, and by the way, Gorn." She paused at the archway to look back at their neighboring king with a grin on her face. "Plants can't jump out of a boiling pot, not even in this place."

Gorn laughed heartily as Sarah disappeared into the kitchen. "She is not so gullible while in your care, Lord of the Labyrinth," he quipped fondly, still chuckling with humor.

"I wouldn't assume so much, my friend," Jareth stated lightly as he seated himself at the head of his table, Gorn sitting at his left. "I haven't corrected her misconception that I had the power to released her from her obligation to the Goblin King, while I was acting Goblin King, of course."

Gorn regarded Jareth with level eyes, sat up straighter in his chair, then leaned closer to Jareth. "I've told you before, my friend, I don't want the girl. She's yours, Jareth. She always has been." Then, Gorn declared in an official voice. "I hereby relinquish all my power over Sarah Williams to you, Jareth, Lord of the Labyrinth."

"That 'is' most generous of you, Goblin King," Jareth stated reverently, bowing his head with reverence. "I am forever in your debt."

"Pah," Gorn sounded, waving his hand nonchalantly. "She was never under my control to begin with," he stated carelessly, then chuckled at the bland expression that came over Jareth's features. "You have always had power over her, my friend," he stated still chuckling. "It was by your challenge and your word that decided her fate, not mine. It's not my fault you both take things for granted so easily."

"I'll have to work harder on that, it seems," Jareth stated, completely chagrinned.

"That is a good idea," Gorn nodded, grinning broadly.

A couple of servants carrying bowls of demba approached the table and served the kings. Gorn hesitantly dipped his spoon into the bowl set before him, then paused for a moment after it was in his mouth.

"Well?" Jareth prompted impatiently, not daring to place anything in his mouth until Gorn either spewed the substance or swallowed it. "Is it edible?"

After another moment of having the demba in his mouth, Gorn began to chew slowly, then swallowed. "It's disgusting," he commented in an even, flat tone, staring at the bowl in front of him. He waved his hand over the bowl, then took another spoonful, repeating his previous taste test.

"I thought as much," Jareth replied, putting his spoon down with disappointment. "And, she made tons of the stuff."

"Hmm," Gorn sounded appreciatively in his throat, chewing more adamantly with the second helping. "That's all it needed," he announced with satisfaction. He motioned for Jareth to move his bowl closer, waved his hand magically over it, then sat back in his chair. "Every goblin knows that the secret ingredient to Demba is goblin magic!"

"Which, you obviously didn't tell Sarah," Jareth remarked, taking a tentative taste from his bowl.

"You are sworn to secrecy, Lord of the Labyrinth. We generally don't tell our secret ingredient to outsiders."

"You have my solemn word," Jareth assured his friend.

"So," Sarah announced, returning from the kitchen. "How is it?" she asked, approaching the table with a smaller tray bearing three crystal goblets of wine.

"It's delicious!" Gorn replied with fervor, spooning more into is mouth.

"Is he serious?" Sarah asked Jareth, not sure if she should believe the Goblin King or not. As she placed the wine goblets on the table.

"Yes, this is very good," Jareth complimented. "Though, I wouldn't make so much in the future. There's a secret ingredient, and only Gorn knows what it is."

"Oh, no," she fretted, holding the empty tray under her arm as she turned to face Gorn. "So, it's ruined," she assumed. "I made all of that demba for nothing!"

"Sarah," Jareth addressed around another mouthful.

"Why can't anything in this place just be what it is?" she asked, thoroughly upset.

"Sarah," Jareth tried again to gain her attention.

"Why does everything have to be hidden, or have secret doorways, and… ingredients?" she ranted, flailing her free arm into the air moving her feet to step back from the table. "Why can't… Oh!" Sarah felt the back of her foot hit against something hard, throwing her off balance only to trip on her long skirt as she tried to collect herself.

Jareth's arm snaked out to wrap around her waist, pulling her onto his lap in a flurry of hair, limbs, and material. "I was trying to tell you to watch your step," he explained haughtily, looking down his nose at her. "There's a rut in the stone."

Her breath completely left her as she stared up at Jareth, the same consuming heat filled her at his closeness just as it had done before. Only it seemed to have intensified since they've shared intimacies. She snaked a hand to the back of his head, silently urging him to bring his face closer, closing her eyes as he willing obliged, and took her lips in his.

"I'll let the two of you rehash old memories, while I go to the kitchen for more demba," Gorn announced, rising from the chair with his empty bowl. He paused after only two steps away from the table, and glanced back over his shoulder to find them both gone from sight. 'Finally!' the Goblin King thought robustly. 'She fixed what she'd broken. It will be nice to have my city back! Ecept maybe the channel, that was a good idea.' Gorm turned back toward the kitchen. 'But, first, I'll help myself to more demba!'

The End