Of Love and Other Severe Irreconcilable Crises
A Fanfiction by Heist
In retrospect, it was probably not the best idea he'd ever had to kidnap her baby brother again, but he had to get her attention somehow.
In a way, it really was all Jareth's fault. He would deny it 'til the moon went down and the clocklegobbers crowed, but really. It was his fault.
If Jareth hadn't pathetically gone Above masquerading as a teenager to spend time with her, and if he hadn't perhaps placed that patently unwise compulsion into Sarah's father's head to allow her to drive (ostensibly to allow her more freedom, but more practically to bring her closer) to "Jared's house" to "run lines" for the school play, and if he hadn't gotten impatient and outright told her who he was, causing the Argument which resulted in the Accident which resulted in the Mighty Head Injury which caused the Amnesia... Well. Unrequited love had a lot to answer for, didn't it?
She didn't remember the Labyrinth. She didn't remember magic, or believe in it. Most gallingly, she didn't remember him.
"Sarah, if you would just listen for a brief, brief moment."
"I don't have to listen to you, you're a figment. A Freudian delusion, an archetypal manifestation of my subconscious desires and rampant sexual frustration."
Well. She remembered him; he'd hardly given her a choice, what with making at least a token appearance everyday since the Accident, but she didn't really believe in him. There was something patently cruel about a Sarah that didn't believe in magic, yet there she was, patently not believing in magic.
She dropped her head to the arm of the couch and reached for her secret stash of psychotropics taped to the bottom of her nice, comfortable therapist's chair, atop which Jareth perched with a delighted predator's grin.
"I knew you wanted me," he said, and helpfully passed her the orange plastic bottle.
"Do you have any idea," she said as she dry-swallowed four pills he would never tell her were placebos, "how many patients I would lose if they found out their shrink has been having conversations with an imaginary man for fifteen years?"
She thought she was crazy. It could be worse.
Unrequited love really had a lot to answer for.
"I can guess," Jareth replied. "Shall we make a game of it?"
Sarah melodramatically draped her arm over her eyes and groaned. Psychiatrists, he had observed, particularly in his experience with Sarah's psychiatrists, were a melodramatic group. The people Sarah called 'colleagues' were most entertaining, if a bit prone to using words like "Freudian" and "archetypal" and "psychotic delusions" at the play dates they called 'conferences'.
"You wouldn't have to worry about keeping patients if you would get over this stubborn little nihilistic phase and come be my Queen."
Sarah rolled her head back and looked at him. "Oh yes. Take me away to the castle beyond the Goblin city and ravish me repeatedly, O Goblin King," she deadpanned. "I need your hot, luscious sweaty body right now."
"That's not how it works," Jareth said peevishly. What with the ignoble shame of being defeated by a teenaged mortal girl, no matter how desirable, Jareth couldn't touch her. Quite literally. The Having No Power Over [Her] clause was kind of a bitch that way, and she was effectively immunized against his Gobliny magic.
"Oh, I forgot," Sarah said. "I have to say my right words. Yeah. I'll get right on that."
A soft knock sounded on the door. "Dr. Williams, your two o'clock is here," her assistant called.
Sarah glared at Jareth. "Hear that, Your Highness? I've an appointment. Shoo." She made a flicking motion with her hands, and he absented himself with a sigh and a shower of glitter, just to spite her.
It was perhaps time to change the angle of his approach.
Toby Williams was tragically sixteen.
Jareth had always assumed that Sarah had inherited the tendency to "The World is a Darkly Cruel, Unlovely Place and On Top of This No One Loves Me" phases from her starlet mother, though once Toby entered his teens it became apparent such melancholies were strictly a Williams family trait. No matter. The boy made up for his excessive quantity of teen angst by being a great wit and a Goblin Chess Grandmaster. They had coffee every Thursday after Toby got out of classes because it made him feel "totally Holden Caulfield," whatever that meant.
Of late, the boy had been somewhat tiresome, though. It seemed that Crises of Dark and Unappreciated Black Moods were not enough to stave off the effects of an unrequited crush, and Toby was in the jaws of slavering post-pubescent lust and longing. And whining about it.
"She's perfect, J-man. She is totally gorgeous, and brilliant, and the head of the debate team and rocking the fairy princess gig, and she doesn't even know I exist."
This, too, fell into the category of Things Which Are Entirely Jareth's Fault. If he hadn't been off perturbing Sarah at a psychiatry conference, he wouldn't have needed Toby to babysit the Goblin Kingdom, and Toby would never have discovered his crystal spy network, and through experimentations with the aforementioned, the Faerie Kingdom Beyond the Vile Desert.
And upon his return, Toby would not then have insisted on accompanying Jareth to the Inter-Kingdom Diplomatic Consortium, and seen her across the pile of bogmallow crispies at the refreshment table and fallen irrevocable into Crush at First Sight.
Oh, teenagers. Oh, Williams teenagers. If he were smart, Jareth would just write off the entire family as a loss and accept that only pain and suffering and costly property damage came of his association with them, but noooo.
"To be fair," Jareth replied, "Princess Diamaundia Penelope Isabella Icewater-Lilyfrond doesn't know your world exists. Her private school publicly advertises how they only teach the Unified Reality Theory, and dismiss my total mastery of time and space on the grounds of insufficient empirical evidence. See if I help them if a fresh time warp opens in their kingdom. Hmph!"
Toby pushed his black coffee aside, dropped his head to the counter, and moaned. Danu's pantyhose the boy was ridiculous!
"Really, m'boy, you shouldn't take this so personally. She thinks your entire species is extinct." Jareth lifted his own coffee-flavored cup of sugary milk and took a long dignified sip.
Toby moaned again and propped his chin against his upturned palm. "Somehow, you always know what to say to make a situation even worse."
"You actually want her to ignore you specifically?"
An opening! At last.
"You know, I could arrange that," Jareth said casually, and sipped his coffee again.
Toby straightened, and a crazed look overtook his face. "How."
"The how of the matter is inconsequential. First, though, I would need a favor..."
It was too easy after that. A piece of cake, really.
Jareth appeared in Sarah's office in the middle of one of her patient sessions. She ignored his flamboyant entrance, but her patient's eyes widened noticeably for a moment, and tracked him uneasily as he leaned against Sarah's desk. The young woman's gaze flicked desperately back and forth from him to Sarah, and he raised a finger to his lips to encourage her silence.
"It's like this," she said to Sarah. "I keep seeing these people that no one else can. I mean, other people can see them, but they look different to me. The other day on the subway, I saw a green girl. Green! With wings! And she was with a guy in armor with silver hair, just walking around like that was normal."
"I see," Sarah said. Jareth rolled his eyes, and decided he'd have to warn the new King Above and his nominal Queen to tread Ironside a little less freely, and possibly to get the city bridgetroll to design a more effective glamour for the Upperworlders. Undergrounders, for the most part, were far better at passing Above than they had any right to be, but that was neither here nor there.
"I'm not crazy," the woman continued. Sarah nodded and wrote the words 'crazier than I am, wow' in her notebook. "I don't even know why I'm here, but these people are real." She lowered her voice to a stage whisper, "And I'm pretty sure I'm being stalked by Rumplestiltskin."
The air at Jareth's side shimmered, and popped, and the Trickster himself materialized to lean against the desk. "Fancy seeing you here!" he said, and outstretched his hand.
Jareth returned the gesture. "Well met, Stiltch. It's been a while."
The patient wailed in dismay. "He's back!"
Sarah glanced over her shoulder and narrowed her eyes at the two of them. Jareth could only imagine what she was thinking, and he grinned cheekily at her and waved. "I beg your pardon?" she asked.
"Can't you see them?" the young woman cried. "They're right there."
"I hope you're not here for mine," Stiltch said. "I made a deal with her father for the firstborn son in the family, and I didn't want to take her baby before she'd gotten over that nasty bout of post-partum depression. I'll be quite Put Out if someone's wished the brat away."
"No, no," Jareth replied. "I'm here for the other one."
"The shrink?" Stiltch clapped a hand on his shoulder in sympathy. "Oh, I don't envy you. I'd heard rumors that The Girl had gone a bit musty in the attic, so to speak, but that is just too much."
The appointment ended five minutes shy of the hour, and Sarah sent the sobbing young woman away from her office with prescriptions for three different antipsychotics and a sedative. "That wasn't very nice," Jareth said once the door had firmly closed.
Sarah pinched the bridge of her nose. "She won't be conscious enough to see anything weird now, happily for her." She glared at Stiltch and crossed her arms. "So you're bringing friends now? Great."
"Sarah, this is—"
"He doesn't have a name, he's a figment! God, is there something in the water or do I have to give up coffee now too?"
Sensing an argument, Stiltch backed away. "It's been a treat, Jareth. Tea sometime?"
"Oh, yes. That would be lovely. Give my best to the kids, won't you?"
"Shall do, and the wee goats send their thanks. If you don't mind, I've got to run. Timetables to keep, babies to steal... very busy, you understand."
"Oh, of course."
"Well then, Your Highness." Stiltch bowed, and with another shimmer, a pop, and a cheery "Ta!" vanished.
Sarah turned the full power of her irritated stare back on Jareth. "Oh, that was cute. Why do all my hallucinations have a thing for kidnapping children? My life is like a giant Jungian joke and there's not even an audience to appreciate it."
Jareth boosted himself onto the edge of her desk and gave her a charming pout. "That's tragic. Why don't you come tell nice King Jareth all about it?"
"What do you want?"
His pout became a grin which became a full on devastating sharp-toothed smirk. "I, my lovely, have come to take you away from your dreary miserable life."
Sarah laughed. She laughed hard, and long, and bent double from the force and power of her hilarity. "Oh," she said once she had recovered enough hiccoughing breath to speak, "oh that is funny. The imaginary man is going to whisk me off my feet to his magical kingdom. My imagination has gotten cliché lately!"
"You jest now," Jareth said, "but I do believe mine shall be the last laugh."
"And why is that?"
"I kidnapped your brother," he said. "What say you to that?"
Sarah wiped the last hysterical tears from her eyes and sniffed. "That's kind of impossible, but okay. If I want to believe that you believe you're capable of that, fine."
"Well. I did. I totally kidnapped him, and locked him up in my dungeons with threats and vile tortures, and I've successfully convinced him to wish you away in exchange for freedom."
Exchange "bribed" for "kidnapped" and the torture with a powerfully awkward introduction to Princess Diamaundia and that statement would almost be true. The joys of Semantics never ceased.
"Is that so, Your Highness?"
"Yes. And now we shall be going." Jareth reached out and took hold of her wrist, sweet glorious contact(!), and with a flamboyant spray of confetti and glitter they vanished from her office.
They reappeared directly in the center of Jareth's throne room. Sarah windmilled her arms to rebalance herself from the abrupt shift in space/time, and stared.
The goblins who had previously been lewdly cavorting about the room stared back.
"Oh Christ," said Sarah. "This acid trip's gone 3D and technicolor."
A big fluffy sheepdog, ridden by an eyepatch-wearing fox in red velvet, galloped into the room. "My Lady!" Sir Didymus exclaimed. The goblins straightened in alertness, scaly ears pricked forward, and all Pandemonium ran riotous and free into the room.
"Oh my God."
"Oh my God."
"Oh my GOD."
Jareth grew weary of her rapidfire pacing, enjoyable though the sight of her trouncing about his bedroom was, and snapped his fingers. "Sarah. Do cease this nonsense."
She planted her feet, turned and pointed an accusing finger to where Jareth lounged most provocatively on the bed. "You!"
"You are real."
"I've been telling you such for years. It was entirely your own choice not to believe me."
"You are real, and you've seen me naked."
Jareth smiled fondly at the memories. If there had been any perks to the fact that Sarah had believed herself utterly insane, it had been her lack of compunctions against undressing before him at night. Every night. For years. "Yes," he said. "Yes I have, and might I say my dear you are glorious."
"You—" Sarah's mouth opened, as if she had planned to say something, but no words issued forth. Her jaw worked, and he saw the beginnings of many a foul insult on her lips, but still she said nothing, finally settling for an expression of abject shock. She took up her pacing again. "You are a bad bad man!"
Jareth sighed and rolled lightly off the bed. Sarah noticed his shift into a perpendicular plane, but continued her pacing without alteration. She always did have to be difficult. "Insane," she muttered, "unbelievably, irretrievably, up the creek without a canoe and the water is lava. I am going to need so much therapy."
Jareth stood in the way of her perambulatory fidgeting and grabbed her arms. "Sarah."
"You're real," she accused. "I thought I was crazy for years, and I went into psychiatry, and I've been giving all those poor crazy people drugs to make them not see things like you and you're real."
If he gave her the opportunity, she would monologue righteously for hours, so Jareth kissed her instead. Thoroughly, forcefully, passionately on the mouth, with tongue. He was of an age to have sufficient practice, and he unabashedly put forth centuries of effort to work in that kiss, and what was more he enjoyed it. He'd had longer dry spells between bed partners, but fifteen years of unsatisfied longings for a truly untouchable woman led to some... frustration.
At last, he broke the kiss, sensing that Sarah's inferior mortal lungs might need air. She gazed dazedly up at him for a long moment, and awareness returned to her lovely eyes.
"Oh my God," she said. "You're real."
"Are we back to this again?"
Sarah shook her head and began unbuttoning her shirt. "Look," she said. Jareth looked. He looked, and his mouth went dry at the sight of lacy brassiere. "Not literally," she added irritatedly. "We're having Unresolved Sexual Tension."
"That's... an apt descriptor." Sarah yanked the shirt down her arms and growled at the buttons on the sleeves that trapped her wrists. Jareth helped her, and she untucked his shirt from his breeches with a fury.
"It's unbelievably meta, is what it is," Sarah said, "and really the only solution to this problem is for us to have lots and lots of sweaty hot dirty sex."
Some time later, after each of them had sufficiently exhausted years of pent up sexual frustration, Sarah sighed into Jareth's chest. "So..."
Oh bloody farting Goblin gods. They were going to have to have a discussion of their relationship now. Jareth closed his eyes and crammed his panic down into the dark little oubliette in his mind where he'd also safely sequestered his conscience and the secret fear and embarassment that someday someone would discover he'd initially learned to teleport because of his horrible sense of direction.
"Yes, beloved?" He kissed the top of her head and traced loving circles on her bare shoulder with his fingertips. Surely every little bit helped.
"I think it's about time that I admitted that I'm sort of madly in love with you."
Sarah winced, and leaned away. "I don't like the sound of that."
"No no, good. Good thing, that is. I was wondering when I should slip into the conversation that I think we should marry and have lots of sex and babies."
Sarah's mouth quirked into a tiny smile, and she snuggled back into the crook of his arm. "That's a good idea. We should get right on that. Only..."
"What do Goblin Queens do? And on that matter what do Goblin Kings do? You've been around me everyday since forever, so how do you run your kingdom?"
"I delegate. I am Master of All Time and Space, so occasionally I can be in several places at once if called to be, but mostly I delegate. I get bored every now and then though, so I'm also a reasonably famous glam-rocker Aboveground, and I moonlight as the head of the Guild of Calamitous Intent a few universes to the left of ours."
"That sounds nice. Who's running the kingdom now?"
"Is that a good idea?"
Jareth looked up at the ceiling and considered the fact that the castle was still standing, in spite of Toby's error in judgement in informing Princess Diamaundia the Above actually did exist, and the pitched battle between the invadie Faeries and the Goblins which had taken place outside while he and Sarah had been more pleasantly occupied.
"I do believe everything will turn out all right," Jareth said.
Distantly, there was the sound of an explosion, and through their open window a mushroom cloud of glittery pink dust could be seen. Both Jareth and Sarah watched it warily, and he sighed.
"Oh damn. There's the end of the world as we know it."
"I'm fine with that," Sarah said. "A complete and total paradigm shift does the body good."
"Hmm. Where were we again?"
"Hot sweaty dirty sex, round fourteen."
"I love you, woman."
Sarah had the last laugh. Jareth didn't mind.
Notes: This was written for the 2009 Labfic Winter Exchange on Livejournal, written for idnh_azuresky. Did I throw in everything but the kitchen sink? Why yes. That thar is a Tithe reference, and that next one was a Love Actually reference, and also an REM reference and varied and sundry others which I can't remember and shan't divulge.
If you'd like to see more of these faboo Exchange fics, you can go to communities(dot)livejournal(dot)com/labyrinth_ex. It is worth noting that slobber_neck (oh-you-pretty-things here on FF) and I seem to have both hit the Sarah-as-a-psychiatrist wavelength hard, and completely independently. But, you know what they say about great minds. Also, check out the fic I received as a gift from the ultra-awesome LadyRhiyana!