The Villain and the King
By: Jack Hawksmoor
Sarah jammed an elbow back with a wordless yelp, twisting and fighting before it even registered that she knew very well who that voice belonged to. She'd spent too many years in strange and dangerous places to take a sudden violent grab with good grace.
She kicked out at a table as Jareth yanked her back, scattering scrolls, and her arm caught two of the hanging crystals, dropping them instantly out of the air. They bounced high off the ground as if they were rubber balls, making glasslike chiming sounds as they went.
Infuriatingly, Jareth ignored her attempts to fight him off as if she had been playfully swatting at him instead of giving it everything she had. His strength was formidable, and when he tightened his grip it was like she was pinned under a car, for all the chance she had of getting away. He hauled her away from that book like it was on fire, or about to explode, and pulled her around the side of the stacks so even looking at it was impossible.
Fighting was getting embarrassing, so Sarah went still, pissed and shaken all at once. He knew better. He knew better than to grab her like this. She watched Jareth's crystals bounce down between the stacks of books. Oddly, as if it had been told to, the door opened for them, and they bounced away, out the door and down the stairs. The door closed after them with a thump.
Sarah was panting, part of her outraged that he was using his strength against her, and another part kind of frightened as to what his reason for doing it was going to be. He always tried his best to seem... almost human. "What are you doing?" she asked, quietly, some of that outrage putting steel in her voice.
Jareth turned her around, grasping at her as if she might take off running or vanish into thin air at any minute if he let go of her. She got a good look at him, and was startled out of anger.
He'd gone all white and feathery. He only did that when he was utterly worn out, or scared stiff. Not that he'd ever admit to either, but Sarah did have eyes and she'd been with him in a variety of interesting situations during the time they'd been together. From the look on his face, Sarah would guess that it wasn't exhaustion that was whitening his pale hair, wisping the ends until she had to squint to see whether it was actually hair or feathers there.
His face tightened at whatever he was seeing on her face and he pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her. Protectively? He pushed his face into her hair, like he was hiding there.
Sarah didn't hug him back, thoroughly confused. She put her hands up and pushed against his chest instead. She felt him shake his head against her shoulder and tighten his grip on her.
"Jareth," Sarah said, and she heard the fear rising in her own voice, "what-"
"No," he breathed hotly into her ear. "Sarah, no. Don't." He rested his head on her shoulder for a moment. "Don't ask me."
Sarah gave his chest a hard shove, and he wisely let her go. He looked kind of sick about it, though. Sarah swallowed hard and leaned back against the edge of the table closest to her, suddenly shaky and thinking fast. God, she'd been right. There was some kind of rule. Some magical fine print she didn't know about, something about mortal girls and nonmortal kings or something stupid and unfair like that, and he wasn't allowed to tell her. That was always the way these things were set up.
How long had they been together? And she hadn't even noticed until now.
"Jareth," she said softly, "I'm sorry."
This was not what Jareth had expected to hear, apparently. He gaped at her.
"If there's a way around this, I'll find it. If there's some kind of rule or curse or-"
She stopped, because Jareth stepped forward, and slipped his hands around her waist, and lifted her gently up so that she was sitting on the table. He wasn't quite laughing at her, but she could tell she'd done something right...he was looking at her rather adoringly. It was quite nice, actually. He left his hands resting on her thighs. That was quite nice, too.
"That," Jareth began, "is not quite what I mean."
"Then what-" Sarah began, her eyebrows drawing together. Jareth closed his eyes as if even the beginning of the question pained him.
Sarah touched his face gently. He opened his eyes.
"How long is it for you in between my visits?" Sarah asked bluntly, brutally, sensing Jareth was fully prepared to use his full arsenal of Goblin King flim-flam to get himself out of having to face answering her on this one.
Jareth hissed in a sharp breath, as if she'd just slid a knife in between his ribs.
"Why were you hiding this from me?" Sarah continued, mercilessly.
Jareth blinked several times, rapidly, like he'd just taken a good solid blow to the face, and looked down. He leaned very close to her without looking up. His hands moved over her thighs aimlessly, massaging.
"I need," he began softly, and lightly rested his forehead against hers, "for you to withdraw the question."
"And if I don't?" Sarah asked, watching him carefully from very close up. She should have guessed what his response would be.
Jareth kissed her gently, his hands easing her thighs apart so he could press his body against her. Sarah breathed in sharply through her nose. He broke away to nuzzle her cheek, then kissed her again, more firmly this time. She found herself responding despite her best intentions, caught up in his damnable skill and the high emotions of the moment.
"Sarah," he said against the side of her face, before trailing his lips along the edge of her jaw and leaning over to nibble lightly at her earlobe. He kissed her there, tenderly. "If you have ever trusted me, you must trust me now. Forget the question." He pressed himself a little firmer against her, his growing erection warm against her thigh, and Sarah's body, already quite interested in the situation, positively leaped to attention.
It was patently obvious what he was doing, and yet Sarah found herself warming to it anyway. Maybe if he was less blatant about it she would find this kind of thing annoying or pushy. Jareth was, as a rule, so openly, unapologetically manipulative it was almost like honesty.
Sarah sighed with a good bit of fondness, and less exasperation than was probably sane. Then she tilted her head back a little to give him better access to her neck. Jareth made a little rumbling sound and tasted her pulse point, licking her there. It was a spot he particularly liked, and Sarah shivered a little, remembering other nights.
"Fine then," she breathed into the pale, soft fall of his hair. He took a breath against her neck, and she felt him straighten a little in triumph. Sarah pulled back, cupping his cheek, stoking the soft strands back from his face. His eyes gleamed brightly with masculine pride. "How long?" she asked him, gently this time, aware she might be treading on his temper.
Jareth's expression darkened. "You-"
"I asked you more than one question," Sarah reminded him delicately. Jareth blinked at her, then glanced away. He regarded her briefly with a painfully rueful expression.
"Clever girl," he said, his voice tight. His hands slid loosely around her arms. He shook his head. "I ought to turn this whole hour back," he eyed her petulantly, "and catch you before you even see that book."
It was a rather nasty thing to say, so perhaps she could be forgiven for being a bit nasty right back. "You couldn't if you wanted to," Sarah said, narrowing her eyes at him. Those were the rules, after all. 'No power over me'. "Not unless I asked, and under the circumstances, that's a bit more trust than you've got in the bank right now."
She shouldn't have said it like that. She didn't mean it.
Jareth flinched back, showing sharp teeth, and Sarah knew, that it had been exactly the thing to say, to cut him right to the quick. After a moment, "What you've seen-" he began slowly.
"I've seen enough," Sarah replied, her voice a bit sharper than she'd intended it to be. She paused, and softened her tone deliberately. "To need an explanation." She stared at him evenly, as determined in the face of this weird mystery as she had been in front of things a hundred times more bizarre and dangerous.
Jareth knew her, knew that look. She wouldn't stop until she'd reached the castle beyond the goblin city, and taken back the child that had been stolen. He stared at her for a second with such stark, honest pain on his face he looked almost human. She watched...something break. His shoulders dropped and his face...
Sarah almost wanted to snatch her words back.
After a moment, he reached out and brushed a few stray strands of hair back from her face. Then he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. It was almost sweet, and it scared her.
"Tomorrow," Jareth managed, his voice rough, his breath in her ear, "I will tell you everything." He kissed her again, on the lips this time, rather desperately. It was all Sarah could do to just hang on to him.
"Give me tonight." He pulled away a little, cupping her face, touching his forehead to hers. "One last-" he stopped. "Give me tonight."
Sarah's eyes had gone wide at his aborted sentence. She recoiled, disturbing more papers, and knocking over something fragile that shattered on impact with the floor. They both ignored it. "Jareth-"
"One last night to lie to myself," Jareth said the words as if they hurt him coming out. He struggled with himself for a moment, as if there was something else that needed to be said. Then he tilted his head and leaned in, brushing her lips with his.
"Please," he breathed, shocking her. "I promise you."
Sarah gaped at him for a brief moment. Jareth might have been human once-a fact he had shared with her entirely accidentally-but it had been so unimaginably long ago that for all practical purposes it no longer mattered. Jareth was a creature of dreams and had been one literally for as long as he could remember. Such creatures never made promises lightly.
Sarah stared at him with wide eyes. The sharp lines of his face were pale and ghostly as his clothing, showing so clearly how very frightened he was right now.
Whatever had fallen off the table was sizzling on the floor, and popping off little green sparks. It crackled obliviously into the silence between them.
"Come here," she said softly, and reached out to him.
Silently, with something like hope on his sharp features, he sank into her arms. She kissed him gently, and he took a breath, turning his face to one side, pulling his arms around her almost uncomfortably tight. He jolted the table slightly as he did. This was the final blow to one of the half-empty coffee cups teetering on the edge of the table, which landed on top of the pile already on the floor. The coffee cup did not actually break, which was nice, since Sarah had brought most of them along with her from earth personally. Privately, she considered them her contribution to the castle's overall disarray.
With the addition of whatever had been in the cup, or possibly the cup itself, the small magical reaction on the floor burbled to itself and, after a moment, the sparks turned blue. Sarah laughed softly under her breath, and gave Jareth a small reassuring squeeze.
"I do so love you," Jareth said to her, and the hits just kept on coming, because he almost never said it to her, not flat out like that. He was much more of the show by doing sort. Or, if he could manage it, over-doing.
She made a soft noise of pleasure and surprise, her heart squeezing sharply. Then his mouth was on hers. He pressed against her, his hand at her back as he eased her down flat. The warm weight of him pinned her pleasantly against the table. He was kissing her as if he would never get the chance again, as if she filled the whole of his world and by god he was going to have her on a table in the library and she didn't care one bit-
Someone, or something, gave the library door a solid rattle, as though they meant to open it no matter what. Sarah froze, startled, and Jareth looked up, equally surprised. An instant later there was an outraged bellow from the door, and a loud series of clangs and yelps, as if several goblins in armor had just been chucked down the stairs. The door shuddered and twanged in its frame-some of the formidibly-shaped metalworking on the front of it snapping back into place, no doubt.
An instant later, the whole series of sounds was repeated, the goblin in question getting out a, "Your Majesty-" this time before getting thrown down the steps.
There was a general sound of argument, and Sarah realized with a bit of a sinking sensation that there were quite a lot of goblins on the other side of that door.
"Not now," Jareth all but growled.
"King!" One of the goblins squeaked from the other side of the door, having heard his voice. Several others piped up with versions of that and "Your Majesty!" Someone made the ill-considered decision to try the door again, and was sent crashing down the stairs, bellowing the whole way down.
Jareth, King of the Goblins, leaned over Sarah's shoulder and rested his head against the wooden tabletop. Gently, he thumped it against the wood several times.
Sarah covered her mouth to stop from laughing out loud. She slid her other hand up his arm to give it a pat, and he lifted his head swiftly to glare at her. His expression softened quickly when he saw the look on her face.
One of the intruders outside began to threaten the door imaginatively, in a very high-pitched voice. Something about its mother and a rear-end full of fairy dust and high explosives- Sarah had a sneaking suspicion it was Little Jareth doing the threatening- she caught something about what a 'beautiful boom' it would make.
Sarah's fingers slipped over her mouth, and she snorted. Jareth's eyes opened wide in amusement.
"Hardly a laughing matter," Jareth said, the look on his face belying his words. "I think that little pyromaniac might be a danger to the realm."
"Your Majesty?" A deeper voice. "Your crystals are loose in the city. We sounded the alarm."
Jareth hissed out a breath through his teeth.
"King!" A higher-pitched voice, speaking louder, as if Jareth might not have heard through the door. "Balls are out! In streets, in fountain, knocked old fortune teller into sewer, smashed up sewer!"
"Damn," Jareth said quietly, and scooted off the edge of the table, pushing himself back onto his feet. He looked toward the window, and held out a hand, beckoning once as if encouraging the stars themselves to fall out of the sky into his grasp.
Sarah pushed herself up onto her elbow to watch, and to her surprise, for a moment it looked like he had done just that. There was a pause, and then a pair of twinkling points of light arced out of the night sky, landing neatly in the palm of his hand as if they were trained dogs that he'd called off the hunt.
He looked at the crystals he held and shook his head slightly, as though they were students of his that had just done really badly on a test, then with an easy motion tossed them overhead.
"Back to work," he said, under his breath, as they froze in place above Sarah's head, going luminous and airy and harmless-looking once again.
"The sewers?" Sarah asked him, a bit timidly.
"I shudder to think," Jareth replied, looking grim. He leaned against the edge of the table with one hip. Unhappiness was written large on his face. "We may have to-"
"KING!" shouted several goblins together from the other side of the door. "Balls are out!"
"Yes!" Jareth roared. "The next idiot who says another word about my balls will be bogged!"
Sarah coughed, trying to smother a laugh. Jareth gave her his best threatening, kingly expression. It was not quite as intimidating as it had been when she was fifteen. It was, however, a lot sexier.
Jareth saw her expression and started to get that deeply frustrated, slightly desperate look in his eye that usually only cropped up when the goblins had half his kingdom on fire. It was cheering that Jareth wanted so badly to stay with her. The fact that this was probably largely because he wanted to sleep with her was actually a bit of an extra lift to her mood.
There was discussion outside amongst those goblins as to the best way to proceed and not be bogged. Sarah could hear their high-pitched voices running over each other, the volume rising as they squabbled over what to do.
"You have to go deal with this," Sarah said, regretfully. She might not like to be called queen, but she had been the nominal one around these parts for quite a while, and she could tell by now when trouble was brewing. She could hear it in their little voices. Sarah pushed herself over to the edge of the table and sat there, swinging her feet.
Jareth stepped over to her, looking pretty disheartened. Wordlessly she made room for him to stand close, between her knees.
"This may take all night," he said quietly, putting his hands at her waist.
His last night.
"I could..." Sarah began, meaning to offer to come, but he scoffed right in her face, so she gave him an impatient look and stopped.
"Hah," Jareth said, a sharp expulsion of breath. "That would turn out marvelously." He laughed, a somewhat diabolical sound, and when he saw Sarah glaring at him, reminded her, "Sewers, Sarah."
Sarah shrugged. "I'll wait," she said. She'd read or something until he was done. Then Sarah thought briefly of the state he would likely to be in when he arrived. She smothered a smile. "Maybe bathe first," she said, and snickered.
Pleased by the slight jab, Jareth moved to nuzzle her. To be close to her, affectionate to her in some odd and delightful Jareth-y way. He did so enjoy the fact that she wasn't all that sweet. He didn't quite get there, though, because somebody on the other side of the door with a short memory got impatient and jiggled the handle.
The door, having had a lovely night so far and wanting to cap it off, slammed open wide to really get some good air time on the offending goblin.
Sarah looked up to see a brief slice of the hallway and a whole sea of wide-eyed goblins looking in on them, before the door shut again with an impressive 'wham'.
"Oh, of course," Jareth said in a low, deeply frustrated voice, pulling away from her.
The unstable, sparking substance that had gone over the edge of the table chose that moment for a minor, fairly harmless explosion. Sarah flinched, covering her head and Jareth threw himself forward, trying to cover all of her. Sarah looked up at him after only a split second, amused by his over-reaction and her own. He met her eyes for a moment, a sharp smile cutting his face, and she knew he understood her perfectly. Like a pair of ex-marines hitting the dirt over a balloon popping
Sarah untangled herself, feeling slightly sheepish. She had obviously taken him along on one too many of her mad, magical trips. He didn't often leave the labyrinth, but now and then if she really needed his help, he'd take a few days off. Somewhere along the line both of their reflexes had apparently gotten a little over-sharp.
"Your Magesties fighting?" Came a shout from the door. There was some muffled disagreement from the goblins outside.
"Ultimate Fight! Ultimate Fight!" Came a high-pitched, very excited voice that Sarah would have bet money was Little Jareth. "Drop Elbow, Sarah!"
There was some immediate hissings of 'treason', but a few too many goblins had figured out how to work the pay-per-view in Sarah's occasional hotel room, and Ultimate Fighting had proven to be dismayingly popular.
"Arm bar! Take fight to ground!"
Almost immediately, it sounded like the goblins outside decided to show by example, and enthusiastically started an all-out brawl with each other, possibly over which of their 'Magesties' they would like to see dropping elbows, possibly over what constituted 'ground'.
Sarah turned to Jareth, opened her mouth to make a comment on that...and couldn't help but notice that there was now a small noxious-smelling fire burning on the floor amongst the discarded papers and books. She caught a whiff of it before she saw it, and the expression on her face made Jareth turn and look.
Jareth glanced down at the smoke, and without changing expression reached over and grabbed one of the many forgotten half-empty coffee cups that had managed to survive the evening unscathed. Jareth then quickly dumped the cup over the fire. There was a hissing sound, and a strange smell of vanilla. Then he just as casually chucked the cup over his shoulder. It shattered on the stone floor.
He was as smooth and calm about it as James Bond at a Baccarat table.
From the hallway came the diminishing sounds of chaos, as the fight apparently descended down the stairs carrying most of the goblins with it, if the noise was anything to go by.
The sudden lump in her throat was inexplicable, and probably solid evidence of some kind of mental illness.
Sarah reached out and snagged Jareth's arm, gave it a tug. Jareth tilted his head curiously. The expression froze on his face. He went suddenly quite still.
Tentatively he inhaled, testing the air, and eyed her as if she had just said something he couldn't quite believe. He didn't object when she pulled him into a hug, however.
"I need you to do something for me," Sarah told him, her arms snug around his waist.
Jareth leaned back just a little to look down at her. "What do you desire?" he asked. He wasn't hesitant or sarcastic about it. He said it carelessly, as if, should she ask him to go get her the resolute desk out of the oval office, his only concern would be where she would like it placed within the castle.
Sarah rested her chin against his chest for a moment, that rotten lump in her throat giving her some trouble. It was a nice chest. She was very fond of it.
"Tomorrow," she said.
Under her hands, Jareth tensed.
"After you tell me whatever it is you're going to tell me," Sarah continued on, "If you think..."
She stopped, gritting her teeth.
"If you think it's going to ruin everything, if it means the end of this," she tightened her grip on him meaningfully, "Or if knowing whatever-it-is means I can't come back here again," her voice went rough, and she looked away, "wind back the whole night. I don't care."
Jareth took a breath.
Sarah gave him a sharp look. "Did you hear what I-"
Jareth made a faint, hoarse sound of wonder, and then she was plastered flat on her back on the table. Books fell onto the floor with muffled thumps, scrolls scattered into the air with fluttering sounds, and something in a glass vial smashed with a flash and a smoky tang of brimstone. Jareth was kissing her. Her lips, her cheeks, the corners of her mouth. He kissed her like she had all his answers, and he didn't plan on stopping until he'd found every last one.
"Precious thing," he breathed heatedly against her lips, the words chasing chills ups her spine. His body was liquid heat against hers.
"Mnh," Sarah responded, when she could, "but what about the-"
"Bog the sewers," Jareth growled. He nipped at her neck, not terribly gently.
Sarah broke out in goosepimples. She moved under him, arching against him in a way she knew he liked. Of course, then she heard someone fiddle with the door handle. Sarah froze.
Jareth paused without looking up. "Door, if you open again, even a fraction, I'll turn you into a bidet."
The formidable door made a slightly strangled sound, and thunked very firmly back against the door frame. Silence descended. In the goblin kingdom it was a rather rare and beautiful thing.
"It is possible," Jareth said to her, his voice abruptly quiet and intense, "It is just barely possible that we will not be disturbed again."
The way he was digging into her hip spoke quite clearly as to what he was talking about.
Sarah glanced around once, significantly. "Here?"
Jareth tilted his head slightly. "I fear it will take just as long to secure anyplace else, the way this night is going." A smile flickered over his lips. "But if it disturbs you," and with barely a flick of his fingers he had a crystal in his hand, "I can-"
Sarah thought suddenly of peach dreams, and realized what he was offering. She put her hand on his wrist, gently pushing the crystal down and away.
"No thank you," she said, and smiled saucily. "I have my dreams."
Jareth made some small, inhuman noise. Sarah reached up, grabbed a handful of his shirt and dragged his mouth down to more interesting uses.
Author's Notes: Right then. So...a bit of smut. Pre-smut. Regrettably, this chapter was getting immense, and needed to be snipped. This was the best spot to break it, I'm afraid. Anyway-HAH! Two chapters posted for two different fics in like, a week! (the author goes for a high-five. Richard Nixon scowls under his helmet and crosses his arms. Tiny Jareth merely scoffs attractively. The author goes off to sulk.)
DAsDesiredRose- Erm...they escaped. They're quite good at that.
LizzardMonster- TinyJareth is OUTRAGED by your insinuations. 'Pathetic? Pah!' or some such. There was a good deal of muttering and scowling.
drama922- sure, no problem.
DeliberateEffort- (looking shifty) spooky things.
necro-wulf- mhm, not to say that sidhe stuff can't be done well...but it has been done. Thoroughly. And I like to start my stories at the interesting bits, it's a habit I just can't shake.
Doroneko- He may. He finds Nixon intimidating.
Tar Irene- yeah, right? No future. Sounds important, and stuff. (Tiny Jareth rolls his eyes)
VampireMafiaQueen- well...wow. That's pretty awesome, actually. I'm glad I gave your co-workers some entertainment.
Perennial Lurker- you are terribly clever. You know, just in case no one's said it recently.
Thanks to Deritine, who rules. With, like, an iron fist of grammar and awesomesauce.;)