Disclaimer: I own nothing, because I was too young to make Henson fall madly in love with me and bequeath the rights to all of his works to me upon his death. Fate is an ageist.
A Halloween challenge from the harem, which is pretty much the most awesome site for Jareth fangirlism that you will ever find and deserves your attention. Link is in my profile. :) (Site pimping what?)
Characters: Jareth/Sarah plus any others
Genre: Romance either by itself or in combination with any others
Elements to include: A black cat, demon, magical brooms and the Dance of the Dead.
WIK: For those of you who didn't notice the nice big M rating, this is rated M. Because there is sex. Honestly, I didn't intend for it to happen, kissing was supposed to be as naughty as it got, but then their pants sort of came off, and I don't know what happened. . I have no shame.
ALSO WIK: I would like to dedicate this to Underground Daydreams, because this little thing was inspired by the line "I own you" in chapter 17: Blood, of her 100 Themes story. Check it out. (And sorry for jacking your line.)
ALSO ALSO WIK: This story is not beta'd. You have been warned.
Another branch whipped at my face as I ran, drawing a stinging line across my cheek at just the right angle to the other scratches to create an ironic smiley face in welts. The little face throbbed mockingly as a high-pitched, whistle-like scream of intended murder wobbled drunkenly to my ears.
I'd known this was a bad idea, right from the moment my boyfriend's face split into four sections and sprouted scales. Hoggle was going to be full of I-told-you-so's.
Pulling in a searing lungful, I concentrated on my craggly little dwarf friend's face, and yelled.
"Hoggle, I need you!"
My voice echoed around me, rebounding off of leaves and dead bark -
And nothing happened.
I blinked. Waited a few seconds.
"Oh come on!" I said incredulously. "You're seriously just gonna ditch me? I'm sorry I didn't listen to you, okay?"
I continued running, waiting for a whiney comment about my taste in men, or a demand to know what was in it for him, or even a dreaded I told you so, but Hoggle didn't so much as bat a contemptible eyelash to help me.
I mean, sure, he'd been really mad when I started dating Damon against his advice, and had been all 'don't come crying to me when he tries to eat your face off', but surely he wasn't just going to let me be torn to pieces…?
I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes briefly, and hoped. Peeked around.
Apparently, he was.
Sucking in another painful breath, I wished desperately for a bottle of water. My kingdom for an Aquafina, I thought sardonically. Maybe at the next clearing, I could stop for a while, catch my breath…
Somewhere behind me, I heard that horrible, tea kettle-esque scream again. It sounded closer. Adrenaline shot through my tired limbs, driving all thoughts of rest into a corral with the other futile hopes, like normality and a shower and a cute, non-evil boyfriend.
"Sure, honey," I panted, vaulting over a fallen log, "I'll follow you into the dark, scary woods at two o'clock in the morning on Halloween, even though you have an unfortunate tendency to get kinda fangy and scaly." I tore a branch from a passing tree before it could smack me in the face like all its annoying brethren. "What's that? You're hungry? Oh, dear, I forgot to bring a power bar, here, just munch on my arm for a while." I grimaced as said tooth-marked arm scraped against a tree. "Fantastic use of judgment, Sarah."
I tripped suddenly on a tree root that I swear lifted itself up as I passed, and found myself tumbling through a particularly prickly batch of shrubbery-
Into a nice, hiding place-free clearing populated with skeletons who, as one, stopped their creepy Dance of the Boney Dead Things around a huge bonfire to look at me with their empty eye-sockets.
I may have screamed a little.
Vaulting back to my feet, I made a dash back the way I'd come, reasoning that one demon boyfriend was better than a dozen skeleton strangers, when my little flesh-eating pookie came crashing through the trees to meet me. He paused, looking around at our new friends, and promptly pounced on me.
I shrieked, throwing my arms up and trying not to look appetizing as his jaw unhinged and separated into four sections, the better to (eat me with) howl menacingly at the challengers for his girl's hand, his demon tongue waggling around like a skinny pink whip.
I had to admit - he was a lot less kissable when he was all fangy.
Having properly cowed the dancing skeletons, he looked down at me with huge, possessed eyes and a disconcertingly hungry look on his face. I forced myself to meet his eyes, and put a hand on his chest.
"Damon?" I said hopefully. Please, please still be in there…
Damon's jaw drew back together some, and he blinked at my face. "Sarah," he whispered, my name slightly mangled on his unorthodox mouth. I smiled, and reached up to touch his face.
"Hey, handsome," I said, relieved. "Mind not doing the whole face-splitting thing?"
Suddenly his tongue, elongated and prehensile, wrapped around my once-bitten arm, and I felt his saliva burning in the wounds. I gasped, trying to wrench my arm back, but it was fairly useless against his weirdness.
"Ssssaaaraaaahh," he hissed, which, considering his otherwise occupied tongue, would have been quite impressive if he weren't eating me, while closing his eyes and shuddering as I writhed in pain. I clawed at him with my other hand, trying to pry his gross tongue off me, which just made him moan in a very familiar, inappropriate-for-snacking-on-your-girlfriend manner. I blinked in shock. Was he…?
He lowered himself slightly, and I felt his erection brush against my leg.
Oh, hell no.
Grabbing his tongue in both hands, I jerked violently and simultaneously brought my knee up hard between his legs. He choked and made a whimpering noise, rolling off me and curling into a ball on the ground. I hauled myself upright and kicked him.
"How dare you," I snarled, punctuating my words with sharp kicks, "be aroused by hurting me!" I huffed, and turned a glare on the observing skeletons. "Back the hell off, or you're next," I warned them. They promptly went back to their little dead line dance, and I glared as I walked by Damon's sniveling body. "Jerk. I am so breaking up with you," I said, stalking off. Try and eat me, will you…
Looking around, I wondered what direction led back to civilization.
My kingdom for a map.
Sighing, I picked a likely looking cardinal point and started off, hoping not to die before sunrise. Really, I should know better than to go out at all on Halloween, but common sense and I hadn't been on good terms lately. Bad luck, Impossible Happenings and I, on the other hand, were like Siamese triplets. Exhibit A: the whimpering ex-boyfriend lying on the grass a few feet from some discoing skeletons.
I was going to kick Hoggle's stumpy little ass when I saw him.
A harsh wind picked up as I reached the edge of the clearing, wafting an odd smell by me. It was vaguely familiar, in an instinctual avoid-this-at-all-costs sort of way, complete with quickened heartbeat and a shiver down the spine. A particularly violent gust whipped my hair back, and a white feather blew into my face. I sputtered and grabbed it, scowling down at the offending little thing, blood from my hand smearing and staining it. I realized there was a blonde hair tangled in it.
I suddenly recognized the scent on the wind. Midwinter and magic.
Panicking, I dropped the feather and hauled ass into the woods, my feet flying faster than they ever have in my life, running from something to whom distance meant nothing but creating distance nonetheless, ignoring the way the wind swirled around me in a miniature vortex-
And ran smack into a stone wall.
Rebounding violently, I sprawled on an equally unforgiving stone floor and blinked in surprised pain.
"Ooow," I groaned, feeling fairly certain I must have bruised every rib I had and possibly a few I didn't realize existed. Moving, while unpleasant, seemed possible, and I dragged myself into a sitting position, pressing a hand to my sore chest.
"You weren't supposed to start running, you know," chastised a smooth, leonine baritone somewhere off to my right. My limbs filled with lead, and my eyes followed the path of another white feather as it drifted by my face. "Had you been standing still, you wouldn't have injured yourself."
My ire pricked, and I felt some mobility returning to my poor, battered body. "Sorry, instinct," I snapped, and started the daunting task of rising to my feet. "If it makes you feel better, you aren't the only guy I've run from tonight."
I could hear him smirking. "Yes, but with less reason. I won't eat you," he replied, apparently amused by my struggles. A pair of strong hands wrapped themselves around my biceps and helped me stand, pulling me up to stand directly in front of their owner. I was deeply unsettled by the thought of Jareth behind me.
He leaned close to my neck, and I felt his hot breath over my cold skin. "Unless you ask nicely, of course," he said, and I felt my eyes bulge. My breath whooshed out and I quickly stepped away from him, trying to pretend my cheeks weren't on fire.
"Actually, I think I have more reason to run from you. Damon just wanted to snack on me a little. You, on the other hand, wanted to turn my baby brother into a goblin and make me a slave," I retorted, determinedly ignoring his blatant come-on.
I tried really hard not to look at his tongue as it ran over his teeth. Don't stare at his mouth, look at the eyes, eye contact is good for you, don't stare at his mouth.
He smirked. I jerked my eyes back up to his and glared.
"What am I doing here?" I demanded sharply. He smirked wider, which, unfairly, did not diminish its ability to mock, and conjured a crystal to dance over his fingers.
"You called upon my subject, Hogwart." he said. I felt my stomach drop - had Jareth done something to Hoggle to keep him from helping me?
"Hoggle," I corrected automatically. Jareth rolled the crystal in a 'what-the-hell-ever' manner.
"He refused your request, and therefore it was fielded to me," he continued, and my worry for the little dwarf morphed back into severe irritation. So this was his fault. Little cretin.
"I, unlike your little friend, decided to assist you," he said, a smug look on his face. I scoffed.
"Oh, thanks so much for assisting me after I was no longer in danger," I snapped, crossing my arms angrily. His eyebrow quirked.
"Actually, I think you'll find you were. You, my lovely, ill-lucked Sarah, had stumbled upon a traditional Dance of the Dead. Those reanimated souls you saw were performing a ritual that would grant them life for the next twenty-four hours; a dance that, at it's culmination, would drain the life of every being in a half-mile radius of that bonfire," he said. I blinked.
Oh dear god. Jareth had saved my life.
"Oh. Uhm." I fidgeted. He waited patiently. "Thanks."
He nodded, satisfied, and made no move to send me home or shackle me in chains or attack and ravage me. Or anything.
"So, uhm," I started, rubbing the back of my neck awkwardly. "Can I go home now, or…?"
A triumphant grin spread across his face, sending a sack of stones crashing into my stomach and slivers of ice through my chest.
"Sarah, my precious, precious thing, you are home. Without my actions, your life would be forfeit; therefore, I now own it. I own you, Sarah." He savored those words, rolling them around on that distracting tongue of his.
"I have power over you."
I dreaded those words worse than any other fate I could imagine.
I felt sick, the world narrowing down to little pinpoints of light that stung my eyes-
And made the stage makeup drip down my face, glaring too brightly for me to see my audience. I swallowed and stepped up to the spotlight, opening my mouth to recite -
"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl, whose wicked stepmother treated her like a slave…"
Jareth stepped up beside me, brushing my hair over my shoulder. "I can give you your dreams, Sarah," he murmured, and I closed my eyes, enjoying the feeling of his closeness, turning to face him -
And found myself in utter blackness, in bitter cold and damp. I whirled, trying to see something, anything, in the darkness. Something slithered over my foot, and I realized I was naked. There was a chitinous clicking sound from somewhere, ominous and sharp and frightening, and I was alone, alone and naked in the dark -
"Or I can imprison you in your nightmares," his voice slid over me, warming where it touched, and-
I was back in that stone room, panting and nauseous and terrified. What had I done? I gulped down air and sank to my knees, suddenly weak.
Jareth stood over me, as terrible and powerful and cruel as I had ever seen him.
I have power over you.
"However, precious thing," he said, and knelt down in front of me, hooking a gloved finger under my chin and tilting my face up to him. "As I have said before, I can be generous. I will allow you a chance to win your former status." He gave me a small, self-satisfied grin. "Of course, should you lose, you will be mine, forever."
I swallowed. Worked my jaw. Swallowed and tried again. "Of course," I finally croaked.
He flashed a smile, as full of delight and anticipation as that infuriating smirk was full of arrogance and scorn. It threw me for a moment. The Goblin King was giddy over a game?
"Very well. I will ask you seven riddles. If you give me the correct answer to each of them, you may again prance about declaring my lack of dominion over you. However, should you been unable to answer them-"
"I will forever be your Sarah-puppet. Yeah, I got it. What are the rules?" I asked, recovering a bit. I hated that he had reduced me to a huddled wreck, and hated that I had let him see it even more. I pulled my chin out of his grasp and forced myself to my feet, ignoring the throbbing and burning in my chew-toy arm, the dull ache in my chest, and the pins stabbing into my various scrapes and welts. He watched me with amused approval, and I scowled at him in return. He just grinned.
"You must answer each riddle in an allotted time. I think fifteen minutes should be sufficient per riddle, yes?"
I nodded. "Sure. Fifteen minutes each. Of my time," I said, holding up my battered, chewed, slightly slobbery watch. "None of your time-stealing nonsense this time," I warned. He laughed at that. "And you have to ask your next riddle within fifteen minutes of my answering one. You can't just lay around, keeping me here forever while you think up riddles," I added.
"Very well. Second, you will have only one answer per riddle. No guessing until you get it right."
I nodded again. That was fair. I hadn't exactly expected unlimited tries, anyways. "Rule three," I interrupted. "No crazy, seven-part riddles. One answer means one answer, period."
Jareth's bi-colored eyes glittered. "Of course."
"And no causing me bodily harm. I'm not answering jack if you lop my hand off or something," I said sternly. Jareth chuckled again, showing his pointed canines.
"As you wish, precious. No bodily harm shall be inflicted by either party. Also, should you break a rule, you forfeit, and the same will happen should I break a rule." He paused, looking at me expectantly. "Is there anything you would like to add to that statement, precious?" he asked, just a hint of mockery in his tone.
I thought for a moment. Nothing else came readily to mind. "Was there anything else?"
Jareth shook his head. "I don't believe so. Are you ready to begin?"
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and hoping against hope I could do this. Wouldn't be so hard, right? Just answer a couple of riddles, no big, and if I failed, I'd just be his slave for ever and ever.
Yeah, no big.
I'd rather have been eaten by Damon's tongue lick by prehensile lick than be anyone's slave, and to be Jareth's slave, for all eternity…?
Well, doing myself harm hadn't been one of the rules.
"Ready," I said. Jareth smiled in an excited, vaguely hungry manner.
"Very well, precious thing. Give me the answer to your first riddle:
"Necessary to every man's happiness
While also the source of his woes
Something everyone is born to possess
And that should you lose, you'll forgo?"
I blinked, frowning as I pondered. Necessary to every man's happiness… Born to possess… That sounded awfully familiar.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…
I grinned, proud of myself for figuring that out so quickly. This was going to be a breeze. Looked like old King Tightpants should have let a little more circulation get to his brain.
I opened my mouth, preparing to give him the answer, when the rest of his statement sank in.
Give him the answer.
Give him my freedom.
I felt my jaw go slack as I stared at him in dawning comprehension. I had let that slide right on by me, more worried about time limits than remembering that those fae bastards were tricky with their words and loved making you look like a fool.
Jareth was watching me smugly, practically rolling around in my realization. I had fifteen minutes to find a way out of this.
I was doomed.
"Figured it out, precious?" he asked slowly, making sure I'd understood what I'd gotten myself into. I closed my mouth, wondering if I'd be able to figure out a way to kill myself before he healed me.
"No?" he smiled brightly, demeanor no longer smug, and rolled his wrist gracefully, as though tossing the riddle away. "Very well, darling, I'll give you an easy one. What is valuable to varying degrees, has been made of every metal imaginable, is lost more often than stolen, and has a head and a tail, but no body?"
I blinked rapidly, trying to be sure Jareth hadn't suddenly switched out with his good-hearted twin while I wasn't looking. He raised an eyebrow.
"Would you like me to repeat the riddle for you, Sarah?" he asked. I nodded, actually listening to him this time around. I crossed my arms as I thought, but found it hard to concentrate.
Jareth had given me a break. It was almost… generous of him. It seemed planned, though… why had he given me a riddle that he knew I would be unable to answer, only to retract it and give me a sporting shot? It just didn't make sense. It went against what I knew of his character, and I didn't like it.
Shaking my head, I focused back on the riddle. Fifteen minutes wasn't enough time to figure out the riddle of Jareth.
This one took me a little longer, but I decided on an answer long before my time limit.
"Uhm, a coin?" I said, and dug in my pocket, hoping dearly that I had a nickel or two hanging around in there. I breathed a sigh of relief as I found a dime in my back pocket.
"Here," I said, and tossed him the money. He caught it and turned it into a shiny silver ball, rolling it boredly around his hand. He almost looked regretful. Wishing he hadn't given me a free pass on that first one?
Jareth shot me a quick glance, and I saw the corner of his lips tug a little. I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. What had he just thought of?
"Well done, princess. Here is your second riddle:
"Show me whats fuse can be long or short,
Is often the cause of a sharp retort
When repressed can make one pensive,
And when displayed is rarely impressive.
On a woman can be terribly arousing,
And on a man more often terrifying."
Well, that was easy. A temper. I looked askance at Jareth. He wanted me to give him my temper?
On a woman can be terribly arousing…
Oh. He was bored, and wanted me to liven things up again. By getting mad. He wanted to watch me rail and rage, eyes burning and chest heaving, to amuse himself.
I smirked. He had no idea.
Closing my eyes, I thought about things that pissed me off.
Toby crying all the time.
My roommate eating all my Chinese food.
Damon's hardness against my thigh as he tried to kill me.
Jareth's infinite wardrobe. What a prima donna.
Jareth's friggin smirk.
Hoggle refusing my plea for help and forcing me to endure his smirk.
Jareth's face in general. What was up with his eyebrows?
Jareth in general. Cocky, irritating bastard. Honestly, where did he get off? Arrogant jerk.
When I opened my eyes again, I was furious. I stormed over to him, knocking the stupid crystal out of his hand and wrapping my fingers around his throat. He looked mildly surprised, but the look quickly faded into something close to anticipation. I couldn't hurt him or I'd forfeit and he knew that, but I could threaten all I wanted.
"You're a real piece of work, you know that? You want my temper? Fine. All yours, buddy." I squeezed a little, just enough to restrict his airflow without causing pain, and snarled. "I would love to rip all your hair out, piece by piece, strand by strand, until your whole scalp bled and you were begging me for mercy. Wouldn't that be just spiffy? You kneeling at my feet? When's the last time you knelt for a woman - and I'm not talking about eating. Probably never. Arrogant assholes like you couldn't take the ego blow. Women always have to be beneath you. God forbid if one was your equal."
Jareth's eyes flashed, his cheeks turning red from lack of oxygen and anger, and his labored breathing grew a little quicker. I bared my teeth at him.
"Oh, that's not even the start of it, baby. You'd really better hope that I win, or you're in for one hell of a forever. Don't think I'll come easy," I growled, and released him. He took a deep breath, and a small wind fluttered to life, swirling around us restlessly. I forced myself to get a hold on my temper before I did something really stupid, and stared steadily at Jareth.
"You're incorrect, Sarah," Jareth said, unsurprisingly. I'd just called him an egotistical, chauvinistic bastard. Of course he disagreed.
I cocked an eyebrow, mimicking his gesture.
He tensed a little, as though remembering his own promise not to hurt me, and met my eyes challengingly. "I'll kneel before any woman who gets the better of me, rare though she may be, and not only to pleasure her, though I've never had complaints there in any case."
I rolled my eyes. Yup. Defend the honor, and then the sexual prowess. Totally predictable. Next he was going to strut around like a peacock and display his power and authority because he felt I'd threatened them.
He stalked toward me, and I was still angry enough not to be intimidated as he wrapped his own hand, gloved and powerful, around my throat. His fingers were a good deal longer than mine.
Jareth leaned close, our noses nearly touching. I felt the blood rising to my skin, responding to his nearness against my better judgment. Stupid, rebellious body.
"And I would love to meet my equal, precious thing," he said, staring hard at me. "Were I to find such a woman, I assure you, I would not let her go easily." I swallowed, realizing belatedly that he could feel my throat working, and blushed as he smirked. I hadn't expected his peacocking to be quite so… effective.
He released my throat and straightened. "Give me your arm," he said, holding out his hand and gesturing to my injured arm. I eyed him warily as I extended my own, prepared to yank it back if he did anything untoward with it.
He cocked an amused brow at me and gently placed his hands on my torn skin. I felt the burning and stinging ease instantly, and watched with fascination as my cuts and gashes healed themselves as though days were passing in seconds. I grinned.
"Well, that's a nifty trick," I said. Jareth smiled again.
"A perk of being able to control time," he agreed. He moved his hands to my sides, and I tensed, inhaling sharply as my reaction caused my ribs to throb.
"Peace, Sarah. I am helping," he said, and I tried to relax as he did his magic mojo thing again. Unfortunately, the fact that if I put my arms around his neck, we could be dancing made the whole relaxing thing a bit difficult. Also his eyes. And his mouth. And the way he smelled…
His hands rested on my cheeks, surprisingly warm and soft, and I realized he wasn't wearing gloves anymore. The small welts on my face stopped stinging, and I couldn't help but notice that my breath was fluttering his hair. We were so close our breath was mingling. If I leaned just a little closer…
I blinked, cutting off that line of thought before anything dangerous happened. I sort of suspected it was bad for appearances to be making out with the really dangerous, decidedly evil guy I was trying to win my freedom from. I noticed Jareth was smirking at me again.
"Rule whatever : No seducing me," I muttered, blushing. Jareth laughed, releasing my face and stepping back a pace.
"Alas, the game has already begun. No rules may be imposed after the game starts," he said, eyes twinkling mischievously. I glared.
"Next riddle?" I prompted, not feeling the least bit bad about not thanking him for healing me since it had been a distraction ploy anyhow.
Jareth's lips twitched. It looked like amusement.
"A precious thing that comes forth at night without being summoned,
But flees with the daylight without being stolen."
I scoffed. "That has no rhythm." Jareth just smiled and cocked and eyebrow again. I sighed and crossed my arms, thinking. Comes forth at night… The stars? But, then, how could I give him a star? That didn't really feel right anyways. What was around at night, but fled in daylight…?
I snapped my fingers a few minutes later. "A dream," I said. Jareth's eyes glowed a little. Shit. How was I supposed to give him a dream?
Alright, I supposed I could act out a dream, sort of give him a dream come true? But that wouldn't really work, as it wouldn't involve him, so I couildn't really give it to him. Unless…
I looked up at him.
Unless it was a dream about him.
I glared. He knew. He knew.
Floundering for a minute, I frantically tried to think of another dream I may have had, one that didn't include kissing him senseless or cutting him into tiny pieces, and came up blank. I nearly stomped my foot. He'd planned this, dammit.
Squaring my shoulders, I looked back to see him waiting with irritatingly smug satisfaction. He knew he was going to get what he wanted.
I stepped closer to him, determined not to forfeit. Afterall, it wasn't that bad. And maybe he'd be horrible at it and wouldn't leave me a dribbling, gooey mess.
I scoffed inside. Sure. And his bulge was just a sock.
Standing as close as I was going to get to him without standing on his feet, I reached up, threading my fingers through the hair at the back of his neck, and arched, pressing my lips against his.
He stood perfectly still, not reacting in the slightest, and I felt my feminine pride take a sharp blow. Seriously? He could not only take in the knowledge that I had dreamed about kissing him, but the actuality as well without batting a lash?
Oh, hell no.
I pressed against him, molding myself to his hard, lean frame in all the right places, and slid my lips across his, nipping at them just a little. I felt him tense, holding himself back for a moment, and I gave a strategic little moan as I licked his lips.
Pulling me tight to him, he parted his lips and as his cinnamon-and-sex-flavored mouth melted with mine he let slip a low groan of his own. He clutched at me with a desperate sort of hunger that I'd never felt before, his embrace tinged with fear and frighteningly intense.
I wasn't really prepared for this.
Even through his clothing and all the leather, his skin was surprisingly hot, nearly burning to the touch, and my hands were addicted to the feeling. I pulled and clutched at him, frantically trying to taste more of his mouth, trying to coax another buzzing groan out of him, trying to get more.
I hadn't expected him to taste so good. It was sharp and sweet and a little decadent, something that couldn't be good for me but that I desperately wanted anyways. I wondered vaguely if it was some kind of addictive drug, and that if I continued, I would spend the rest of my life craving more of this.
He growled, pulling my hips hard against his to let me know he was enjoying this too, and I whimpered.
Who was I kidding? Like I wasn't already addicted.
There was a sudden snap, and Jareth and I jerked apart, my skin tingling like a rubber band had just been snapped on it. I blinked rapidly in confusion, and saw Jareth doing the same. He closed his eyes for a moment, and I realized that snap must have been a time indicator. He was close to forfeiting the game because I had wrapped him up in a kiss.
And how was that for an ego boost.
"Of no use to the lone,
Yet bliss for two,
Most exciting when stolen,
And thrilling when new.
Sweetest when granted,
And binding when sown.
Sour when tainted
As a means to atone.
When tauntingly gifted
Cuts deeper than steel,
But when meant from the heart
Holds the power to heal."
He chanted the verses quickly, with no introduction or amusement as he had before. I grinned hungrily as I realized the answer.
"A kiss," I said, and we hurriedly molded back to each other's bodies. Those few moments away from his searing heat had been the longest in my life. I ran my tongue over his, loving the way his possessive growl echoed into me.
Jareth slid a hand under my shirt, his gloveless fingers little bands of burning heat against my lower back. I arched into his touch, and suddenly he pulled away and my shirt was off and that was alright, because I wanted his off too.
His mouth was even hotter than his hands on my skin as he trailed kisses down my throat and across my collar bone, and I eagerly reached behind and unhooked my bra clasp as he reached my chest. Jareth clutched at me, as though afraid that if he let any more space than absolutely necessary come between us, I would turn out to just be a dream and he'd wake up.
My tongue still tasted like cinnamon, tingling with the sharpness of the spice, and I watched as he ran his mouth across my skin, wondering if I was going to smell like cinnamon, too. I raked my nails down his fever-hot, muscled back as he wrapped his teeth around the tip of my breast and we groaned simultaneously. Missing the flavor of his mouth, I dragged him back up for more kisses, not minding in the least as he held me just a little too tightly to his chest. I reached down and gave him an appreciative squeeze through his leather pants, making him freeze abruptly, and suddenly I was on my back, the cold stone floor beneath me a sharp contrast to his fevered flesh above me. I pulled him down against me, liking the weight and solidity of him, the way we molded together perfectly, the way he couldn't seem to stop holding onto me as though it would cause him physical pain to let go.
I pressed as much of my skin to his as I could, dragging his mouth to mine and running my tongue along his sharp teeth. He nipped at my lips, pulling at the waistband of my jeans. I reached down, hastily undoing them and pushing them roughly down over my hips as he broke away from my mouth to cover the newly exposed skin in kisses. Those taunting, teasing comments about his apparently talented tongue came roaring back on a tide of hormones, and I shuddered as he licked the insides of my thighs, teasingly close to where I really wanted his tongue, and looked up to meet my eyes as he descended.
I bucked and cried out as he licked me from slit to clit. He growled against me, doing something I hadn't realized was possible with his tongue, and I made some sort of crazed, strangled sound as I grabbed at his hair and trembled uncontrollably.
Wow. Definitely not complaining.
I spasmed and clutched his hair as he wiggled and flicked and circled his tongue against me, growling occasionally when I cried out particularly loudly, keeping his eyes locked on mine as he destroyed my self control and Jesus, how many tongues did he have -
I threw my head back, keening as he pushed me up to the brink -
And then he was gone and I was going to kill him, rules be damned, unless he-
Jareth paused atop me as we lay still for a moment, letting the rightness of the feeling sink in. This was how it was supposed to feel, this match so perfect it seemed preordained, this sensation of finally. I wiggled a little bit, linking my ankles behind his back and grinned as his eyes fluttered shut for a moment. Experimentally, I clenched my muscles.
He shuddered violently, his breath rushing out in a low hah, and I laughed, my voice throaty from improper use and desire. Jareth eyed me hungrily and seized my hips, driving into me as deep as possible-
I cried out, clenching again, relishing in his resultant groan. We locked eyes, each trying to make the other react louder, and slipped into a rhythm.
Unlocking my ankles, I wrapped my feet around the back of his legs, and swiftly pushed up.
We rolled, Jareth now pressed against the stone floor and me perched atop, setting the pace.
How's that for equal, I thought, circling my hips once. Jareth gripped my waist, closing his eyes and letting out a slow breath. I grinned and leaned down, pressing my lips back to his as I started rocking.
Jareth's hands roamed my skin as we moved in tandem, pushing and yielding, increasing the pace as our bodies grew tense and we forgot more and more of our surroundings -
The time indication stung against my skin again as I neared my peak, and I growled in frustration.
"Make me of nothing, and nothing shall I be, ohh, Sarah, but make of me something, and something I'll be," Jareth gasped out quickly.
"Mmunh, Christ, Jareth, you can't expect me to - hunh!" I shuddered, tensing as I grew closer, "-to think right now!" Jareth grabbed my waist, pulling me down and rolling us again.
"Hohgod, don't stop," I cried, my nails biting into his chest as I felt the first waves crashing.
"You have time," he panted, and growled as I locked my ankles around him again, writhing and shrieking in climax. I felt him join me a moment later, and smiled up at him as we slowly came back down.
"Holy crap, you're good at that," I panted. He laughed, rolling and lying beside me, giving me a soft, nearly tender kiss. It made something in my chest roll around happily.
"Lots of practice, precious thing," he joked.
And bam, mood spoiled.
I sat up, reaching for my clothes. So much for the afterglow. "What was the riddle again?"
Jareth propped himself up on an elbow, frowning, but repeated the puzzle. I thought it out while I dressed, snorting when I realized the answer.
"Hah. A riddle about a riddle. Clever," I said harshly as I tugged my shoes on. I vaguely realized I didn't remember taking them off. Magic?
"Here's a riddle for you. What do you not say to a girl right after you've had sex with her?" I said, running my fingers briskly through my sex-tangled hair. "Here's a hint: it rhymes with 'Course I'm a great lay, baby, I've boned tons of girls'."
Jareth grimaced. "Sarah, I didn't mean…"
I gave him an arch look. "Oh, didn't you?" He clenched his jaw and looked as though he were seriously thinking about dropping me in an oubliette. I didn't care. He couldn't leave me in there longer than a quarter of an hour, anyways.
"Riddle six, Jareth," I prompted. I glared at me.
"When the white horse strokes the black cat, the red wood sings," he retorted. I blinked.
"What? That doesn't make any sense!"
"Decipher it, then produce the answer," he replied, lying on his back, still naked, and crossing his arms behind his head. I glared at him, really angrily, and reached behind me to grab his shirt and toss it over his crotch. He didn't acknowledge my attempts at decency in the slightest.
I crossed my arms and scowled, settling in for a think. White horse… Black cat…nothing in common…
This was insane. Horses and cats and wood, no matter what color, did not equal singing -
I blinked. The colors were pointless. He just threw them in there to confuse me. Jerk.
"When the bow, made of white horsehair, runs across the strings, made from the guts of an unlucky black cat, the redwood violin plays a song. I would just like to inform you that I do not still have my violin from tenth grade. And it was also not made of cherry wood."
"Hum. How unfortunate. Do you forfeit, then?"
I sputtered. "What? No! How dare you-" I stopped, clamping a lid on my temper. Rarely impressive, and all that. During the rule-setting, I hadn't stipulated that he was only allowed to request things I was readily able to give him, and therefore it was in my best interests to be civil.
"Would you be so kind as to supply me with a violin?" I asked politely, or as politely as I could managed while drawing blood on the inside of my cheek. Jareth cracked an eye, and sat up, suddenly fully clothed in a completely different outfit than before. I rolled my eyes. Vainglorious bastard.
"Perhaps. But I'm afraid I'll need something in return," he said. I just looked at him.
My eyes bugged. "Wh-what? An apology? What do I have to apologize for? I-"
"Accept my apology, precious thing. I was merely bantering. I did not think it would offend you," Jareth cut in. I blinked.
"Whatever. You're forgiven," I conceded, not really forgiving him at all. Give me the damn violin.
Jareth leaned closer to me, staring intensely. I remembered the desperate way he'd clung to me as we kissed, the bone-deep hunger for me that sent a little thrill through my stomach despite the fact that I was still pissed. I didn't want to know if he looked at all his lovers like that, held on so tightly to every woman kissed. I wanted to think it was just for me, and he'd ruined it.
"Please, Sarah," he said, his voice low and persuasive. "I did not mean to hurt or anger you. It was a careless thing to say."
I blinked, and felt the sting fading at his obviously sincere apology. I looked away and rolled a shoulder in a casual shrug.
"It's fine. I mean, it's not like I care about your old girlfriends or anything, it was just kind of rude, and-"
Jareth cut my babbling short with another kiss, so sweet and gentle it felt like an apology on its own. It took a moment for my brain to realize it was over when he pulled back, and I opened my eyes to see him smiling in a slightly celebratory manner. He liked knowing that I cared. I repressed the urge to roll my eyes.
"So, violin, or what?" I said, aiming for annoyed but sounding closer to tolerantly affectionate. Something was clearly wrong with my vocal cords.
Circling his wrist, Jareth produced another crystal and rolled it over his hand a few times before tossing it to me. I caught it awkwardly, nearly dropping the damn thing as it turned into a decidedly pretty violin and bow.
Taking a deep breath, I sat up straight and tried to remember the proper posture. "I'm warning you now that I haven't played in years and this is going to be awful, so if your ears bleed it's your own damn fault and I'm not forfeiting over it," I said, and closed my eyes as I went over the notes in my head. I'd played them so often in high school that they were nearly muscle memory, and to my surprise, it didn't sound quite as scarringly horrible as I'd expected. Not as nearly as pretty as it had sounded in that crystal ballroom while he sang it to me, but still…
I didn't want to look at Jareth's face as I finished, so I fiddled with the bow for a minute, and then the tuning pegs, and had moved onto inspecting the fingerboard when the instrument suddenly dissolved into a shower if glitter. I scowled at my hands.
"Great. Now I'll be sparkly for days," I groused. I glanced at Jareth, my stomach twisting nervously at the odd look on his face.
"Sarah, you don't-"
"Jareth, don't say it," I interrupted, looking away again and pulling my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them protectively. "I'm not going to stay here and be your slave, which is exactly what I'll be if you have absolute power over me, no matter how nice you promise to treat me. A cage mage of gold and all that," I said. "Don't make me say no to you."
Jareth growled in frustration, clenching his re-gloved fists. He struggled with the urge to say something for a few minutes, and I tried to ignore his efforts, tried not to remember the look on his face as we stood in his broken castle and I crushed his offer under my words. It wasn't one of my favorite recollections.
He turned back to me once he'd recovered, an unsettling look of determination on his features.
"With a hundred legs it cannot stand,
The most graceful dance partner is spite of no hands.
While able to perform alone,
Most shun the idea of her on her own
A long, slender neck that supports no head,
With hair of yellow, though dry and dead.
For lack of eyes, she cannot see,
But despite the hindrance is extremely tidy."
I went over the verses in my head, trying to fit them to something. A hundred legs… a centipede?
It cannot stand. Okay, a paraplegic centipede.
For lack of eyes, she cannot see… A blind, paraplegic centipede with a fetish for wigs and a bad case of OCD.
I growled. What could possibly…? A broom? While able to perform alone… No, a broom had to be held to work. And where the hell was I going to get a broom? I was pretty sure my apartment was more than fifteen minutes away.
I couldn't figure it out. Jareth had me stumped.
This was bad.
I kept thinking, growing more agitated and striving not to panic until I felt the time indicator snap against my skin.
"Answer or forfeit, Sarah," Jareth said calmly.
"Uhm…" I stalled, racking my brain frantically. "It's a…"
"Sarah," Jareth admonished, and I threw up my hands.
"A broom?" I guessed. "But I don't have or know where to get one, so unless you'd be willing to trade another crystal-"
"Your answer is incorrect in any case," he said, obviously not surprised.
"Then what the hell was it? Did it even have and answer?" I demanded.
"Of course it did, princess," he said evenly. "A magic broom."
I gaped at him for a moment.
A magic broom.
"How the hell was I supposed to get that? And even if I did, where would I get one? What do I look like to you, Mickey Mouse?" I shouted. "That is not even remotely fair!"
"And what possessed you to think I would be playing fair, Sarah darling?" he asked. "Have I ever before?"
I sputtered and glared and growled at him while he sat there impassively, apparently waiting for me to wear myself out. It took a while.
I finally slumped, resignation robbing me of my anger and energy.
"What now, then?" I asked.
"Let me be your slave," Jareth said, and I blinked.
"Contrary to what you so stubbornly believe, Sarah, I do not want you for a slave, or a plaything, or an object to gloat over. I want a queen, a wife, a mate forever," he said, truth ringing in his voice. "An equal."
Blinking some more, I gestured incoherently. "But- but what was all the 'I own you, I choose your dreams or nightmares' stuff about, then?" I pointed a finger at him, daring him to lie. "There's no way you can tell me that was a speech to your equal."
Jareth sighed and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I have waited quite a long time to undo that phrase you are so fond of, Sarah. I may have been a little rash."
I thought about that for a second. Yeah, okay, I could understand the desire to make me eat my words. Comeuppance could be really satisfying. Unpleasant for the party to whom the uppance came, but looking at it from his point of view…
"But, Jareth… I can't be your equal if only one of us has the power," I said finally. Jareth held out his hand, and had he been wearing white, it would have been his ruined castle all over again.
"Then be my queen, Sarah. Rule with me, share my power, stay with me forever. Take my offer," he pleaded. I felt slightly short of breath. Jareth was serious. He wanted me, needed me, loved me probably more than I had ever been loved in my life. And thinking back to our little intermission, I had to admit, I could get used to that.
I didn't think I loved him, though. Not the same way he loved me. But looking at him, at that desperate, blinding hope… Maybe I could eventually. And he'd be okay with the waiting.
"I don't know if I'll be able to handle the goblins all the time," I warned him. Jareth nearly collapsed, laughing in relief. His eyes shone a little as he grinned at me. I smiled at the thought that I had made him so tense and conversely so happy.
"I'll show you how to send them to the bog. It makes things bearable," he said, and held out his hand. Ignoring it, I crawled over to him and sat in his lap, draping my legs over his.
"I was wondering if you could show me something else," I said, running my hands up his chest and linking my fingers behind his neck.
He cocked a brow, his grin taking on a heated edge. "Oh?"
I nodded. "That thing with your tongue…"
Jareth chuckled, wrapping his arms around my waist and brushing his lips against mine.
"I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific, my love," he said, and my chest tightened at the endearment. He really meant that. I was his love.
I kissed him, hoping that forever was a lot longer than he claimed.
So, how many of you got the riddles without needing to see Sarah's answers? I'm curious. :)
Fun Fact: This is 13 pages in my word document.