AN: As always, many thanks to all the lovely gals on the JDB Harem (link is in my profile). Your continuing inspiration and encouragement is invaluable. And particular thanks to all those who incessantly nagged and prodded me to get chapter 2 posted. You know who you are ;)
As an additional note, I should probably have highlighted that I am a Brit and therefore subject to the Queen's English in my spelling preferences. So if something looks oddly mis-spelled, it's probably deliberate (at least, it should be at any rate).
Disclaimer: Labyrinth is not mine *sighs despondently*
Sarah stared at the gently swaying branches of the tree above her and squinted against the streaming sunlight. She wondered how long she had been lying there, before the clarity of consciousness had swept her mind clear of delusion. The hazy dreams that had so beleaguered her previously had evaporated, it seemed. She was definitely awake now; but strangely, she felt very warm and comfortable in her current position. Wherever that current position happened to be.
Sarah tried to recall how she had ended up falling asleep under a tree. She remembered that bedroom… and the dark figure who took her from it. She remembered the feel of his powerful arms as he carried her... His intoxicating aroma, lingering even now on the air… Then she had heard the soothing tone of his voice as he began to hum a gentle tune against the top of her head... the brush of his lips perhaps?... That was when she closed her eyes, to better experience the sensations of his song whilst clutched to his warm chest. She must have fallen asleep… and he'd placed her here.
Slowly easing herself onto her elbows, she attempted to take in her surroundings. It appeared she was in a small grove nestled in the midst of a remarkable dense forest. Lush greenery exploded in abundant shades from all sides of her vision, the air thick with saccharine fragrances and musical notes from unseen wildlife. Leaves and fuming rills cast spots of dappled lights, delicately dispersed, and the shrill sweet song of birds could be heard from every bough. Sarah took a deep breath and practically felt the very richness of the air pour into her, every nuance of her body shuddering softly with delight.
Was everything last night a dream? Am I still dreaming? But even as she considered this possibility, she dismissed it. Everything felt too intense and tangible to be a mere dream. Even the thick blades of soft grass her hand was absently stroking felt so real under her touch. This must be the Goblin King's realm that he had spoken of.
The realm she was to live in now.
Confusion, panic, and resentment rushed through her all at once and for a moment Sarah found it difficult to latch onto one definite emotion. So she settled for anger.
How could Michael do this to me? I mean, he probably had no idea what the Underground would be like or where I would end up. This place could be really dangerous, for all he knows. What if I get eaten by some wild animal?
Sarah suddenly heightened her senses as if she might detect a predator stalking her at that very moment. In reality, however, the forest was so stunning in its beauty that there really wasn't any apparent danger or even the suggestion of danger. Had she actually taken the time to properly absorb her current surroundings, she might have noted that the large gnarled tree she lay under had its branches arrayed in a rather sheltering fashion.
Instead, Sarah channelled her anger and used it as momentum to propel herself from the cosy spot the Goblin King had apparently chosen to deposit her in. She had no intention of appearing in any way co-operative by staying put. Unfortunately, she miscalculated how sturdy her legs would be and wobbled jerkily as she tried to stay upright. Before she could topple backwards, however, something hard steadied her from behind, giving her time to regain her balance. Sarah stepped away from the support and glanced behind her – only to see a thick tree branch. She stared at it incomprehensibly until she watched it slowly ascend back up into the tree to align itself once more with the rest of the twisting branches.
The tree moves… Holy crap, the tree is alive!
Instinctively, she jerked backwards a few paces. The tree only rustled at her as though chuckling in amusement. Sarah frowned, reminding herself that trees were not alive – in the sentient sense, at least – and definitely did not chuckle at hapless human girls. Yet the evidence seemingly pointed to the contrary. She would have thought that all her years of reading and even writing fantasy stories, describing extraordinary worlds of magic and adventure, would have equipped her to deal with being suddenly transported to one. Apparently, when one is presented with the implausible situation of a conscious living plant, one is left rather nonplussed regardless. And it was mocking her as well.
Sarah huffed indignantly and began to stride away from the tree, only to realise that the actual "striding" was made difficult by her black high heels sinking into the soft grass with every step. Releasing a sudden high-pitched squeal of frustration, Sarah yanked the useless shoes from her feet and tossed them away as hard as she could. Unfortunately, one of them struck the base of the implausibly sentient tree. When Sarah began to stomp away again, she suddenly found herself face-down on the ground, having caught her foot on one of the tree's roots that she was sure had not been sticking out quite so much a moment ago. Her suspicion was confirmed upon hearing a familiar chuckling rustle of leaves.
"Oh, that was mature." Sarah said, instantly chiding herself for actually talking to the tree, while dusting dirt off her nice evening dress. In reply, it pointed one of its crooked branches at her, indicating that it thought even less of her behaviour.
"Uh! I just got betrayed by someone who was supposed to be my friend and kidnapped by a Goblin King! What do you expect?" The tree rolled in one circular rotation clockwise, a gesture clearly designed to be the equivalent of an eye-roll.
"Oh I get it, you probably think I'm being a drama-queen, huh?" The tree tilted back and forward, nodding. Sarah was suddenly reminded of similar conversations she'd had with her stepmother, which was enough of an eerie feeling to prompt her swift departure. However, not wanting the tree to think it had won the argument, she left it with a final parting shot.
"Well, when I want advice on the appropriate etiquette of a kidnapped damsel, you can bet your branches I won't be asking a tree. Especially not a tree who, as it happens, is in absolutely no danger of being kidnapped by Goblin Kings." She spun around and headed directly away from her strange companion, feeling quite satisfied, only to once again hear its chuckling rustle noise behind her. Deciding to pretend she hadn't heard anything, Sarah kept up her brisk determined pace.
After what felt like several hours later, Sarah eventually decided to sit down. The purposeful striding had only gotten her to a part of the forest that looked frustratingly similar to the one she had started out in. She reached down to massage her now dirty feet and pondered her next course of action.
Did the Goblin King expect her to wander around like this indefinitely? The scenery was of course breathtakingly beautiful, but she couldn't just spend all her time marvelling at it. Sarah raked her memory, she was sure there was a purpose to her being here – other than allowing Michael-scumbag-McCormack off the hook – something that the Goblin King wanted from her… Yes, that was right. He wanted her "mortal dreams".
Ok, and that means… what exactly?
Perhaps it was his intention for her to remain lying underneath that obnoxious tree? Simply spending the rest of her days in dream-like repose? Although the idea might have had some novelty to it, ultimately Sarah considered it to be a massive waste of time. Not to mention boring. But what else could be meant by "mortal dreams"?
Absently, her eyes flicked to one side - and abruptly her attention was arrested by a peculiar sight. There, sprouting out of a withered tree stump, was a rose bush. Covered with lustrous blooming petals that were the most iridescent shade of blue she had ever seen, Sarah compulsively scrubbed at her drowsy eyes to better take in the sight. She gazed at it in awe before moving closer, crouching down, and reverently reaching out a hand to gently touch a particularly attractive rosebud. It smelled wonderful; fresh and vibrant and achingly beautiful. As she continued to admire the strange and wondrously lovely blue petals, Sarah was suddenly struck by an overwhelming sense of déjà vu…
"Oh, pretty flowers… pretty girly person…" said a voice that floated into her hearing, speaking as though in conversation with itself. Sarah turned her head from where she had crouched in front of the magnificent blue rose bush and saw a squat, yet oddly spindle framed, creature. Vaguely human-like in appearance, it wore an unremarkable leather garment and had arms and legs that looked too long for it, coupled with an innocuous pale face. Its gait suggested one who took care to assess a situation before deciding to enter upon it, as the slight figure approached her in fractionally short tip-toes.
"Um, hello," Sarah said as she got to her feet, upturning the corners of her mouth in what she hoped was a friendly smile. She suddenly wondered what the appropriate etiquette was in greeting other-worldly creatures. Other than accidently throwing shoes at them in a fit of temper of course…
"Ah, lovely… yes," the creature muttered to itself quietly, its rather large eyes making only the slightest of movements up and down, unblinking, as though performing a mental scan of the tableau she presented.
"Excuse me, mister," Sarah said firmly, abruptly abandoning any qualms about etiquette, "I don't really appreciate being stared at, ok? Who are you?"
"Oh, of course, yes… manners required. I am a simple wanderer, alone out here, picking my way through this ghastly kingdom." The creature said this last with a quick furtive look from side to side. "You may call me Wiggins, lovely girly." This introduction was followed by an outbreak of what constituted a smile on its pale face. Sarah couldn't help but think the effort was wasted on such a creepy looking thing.
"Well, uh, nice to meet you Mr Wiggins, my name is–"
"Oh, haha! No, no, not a 'Mr' or any such fancy, no, no indeed."
"Ok, just Wiggins then. But what do you mean by 'this kingdom'? Does that mean that there are other places besides this one?"
"Other places…Well, yes that seems like sense speak to me." It sounded as if it had only just pondered this question for the very first time.
"So, there must be a way out of here, right? Maybe even a way for me to get back home?"
"Not sure I've ever heard of a place called 'home', but yes, girly can go home, she can come with me, I knows where to go from here." It maintained its blank expression, even with the smile, but the large eyes seemed to gleam a bit more than was needed.
"I can't believe this, this is great! Ok, so do you know how to get to a place called Seattle? Or America, even? Or maybe just a place that would let me travel onto somewhere like that?"
"I can go to any place I like, anytime I like." Wiggins responded, as though rhyming off a well known slogan.
"Really? Wow, it must be amazing to have that kind of freedom."
It frowned slightly, apparently not recognising the word 'freedom', but nodded along anyway in the spirit of agreement. "I can do whatever I like, and be whatever I like."
Sarah smiled a little despondently. "I used to feel that way once about my life."
"I'm always on the look-out for something better. Why live only the one kind of life when you could have many different ones?" Wiggins' speech increasingly took on an air of confidence that hadn't been present before, though Sarah didn't notice.
"You're right, that's so true. Lately, I've been feeling depressed with life." Sarah abruptly felt an overwhelming compulsion to open up to this strange figure, despite having just met him. "It's like I'm stuck in one place, you know? I thought that if I went after my dream, if I made that my goal, then nothing could stop me. How could it be the wrong choice if it's my dream? Yet that's how it feels sometimes. Like I've went down a wrong path or something. You work so hard to get somewhere, but at a certain point you have to wonder, when does 'hard work' really translate into 'it's not meant to be' and whose to say when you've reached that point? Maybe some people just aren't meant to have their dreams."
Sarah turned back to her companion, realising that she had been gazing at those beautiful blue roses as she spoke, only to jump with surprise when she noticed Wiggins had moved closer, its eyes fixed intently upon her.
He's obviously just a very eager listener...
Wow... those eyes never blink, do they?
Sarah shook off any feelings of unease, feeling compelled to reason with herself that such a benign looking creature couldn't feasibly be dangerous. He was no doubt lonely from traveling on his own all the time. This thought inspired an inexplicable notion of kinship with this fellow lone traveler. Strange, too, since she had been unnerved by his creepy appearance before... Yet her brain continued to prompt her that he seemed harmless.
"So, would the girl like to come with me? I can take her anywhere she wants to go?" The voice was softer, tonally deeper, almost feminine sounding... and familiar to her.
"Yes..." Sarah heard herself say, blankly, "that would be... lovely."
Wiggins' eyes gleamed like sapphires, and a thin hand extended towards her.
She blinked, absently. Then reached her own hand out to meet his mid-air...
Only to have it snatched by an iron-clad fist incased in polished black leather.
"I wouldn't do that, if I were you."
Sarah dizzily shook her head, hearing, but not understanding, the sybaritic voice that sailed over her senses. Still gripping her hand, the majestic interloper focused his attention on the other party, his words turning to silky steel.
"And what have we here? I didn't realise my kingdom was an open free-for-all for abhorrent gutter-trash like you." This was not a rhetorical supposition; and the lesser creature literally shriveled to almost half its size.
"No, no... No offense intended, not at all... I wasn't aware - how could I know...?" It simpered, doing everything in its power to portray a state of innocence.
A contemptuous stare was all the reply Wiggins received. The creature was evidently beneath the notice of the eminent King of the Goblins, who carefully affected the appearance of aloof disdain as he conjured a smooth crystal in his other hand. Wiggins' eyes bulged in sheer terror at the sight of it.
The Goblin King uttered a phrase and propelled his crystalline missile, hitting the target square in the face, vaporising it like sand.
A moment of silence descended upon the pair – neither moving an inch – as Sarah slowly comprehended the fact that she had just witnessed the killing of a creature she was only a moment ago chatting with pleasantly.
Except, I wasn't. It tried to do something to me against my will... made me feel defenseless and weak... just like Michael.
Anger swiftly superseded the burgeoning feelings of fright. Without warning, Sarah tore her hand out of the Goblin King's grasp and began battering him with every ounce of strength she possessed. This carried on for awhile, as he apparently felt no compulsion to block her attack, much less put a stop to it. Neither did he endure the bombardment as though it were an ordeal or even an inconvenience. He merely watched the young woman thrash against him, panting appealingly with the exertion of it.
"I don't believe I'm the one you're mad with," he remarked pointedly. Sarah abruptly ceased her efforts to stare at him incredulously. "And I shall not pretend any nobleness and accept the blame where it so justly rests on the doctor's shoulders. I am fair-minded to a fault, you know."
"Don't you dare!" she wheezed harshly, out of breath from the rather ineffectual beating. "Don't you even try to load all the blame on him! You know as well as I do that you didn't have to take that bastard up on his offer!"
"Oh dear, to have waited with bated breath to hear your lovely voice for the very first time, only to have the special moment sullied with such foul language." He sighed histrionically.
Sarah felt like screaming. The absolute gall of this man - this creature - to treat her situation so flippantly. Instead she asked, "What was that... thing, anyway? I hardly even knew what was happening, before..." She didn't allow herself to finish.
"It was a Boroa," he said with an undisguised note of disgust.
"Ok," shaking her head, "and what exactly is a Bor-row-a..?"
"Boroa," he corrected. "In your language, it is simply another word for 'eat', but more generally, I suppose, it means 'consumer'. That is its function. It sees something it likes, and then seeks to become that very thing by subsuming it into its form. Perhaps you noticed that it began to mimic you in some way? Or began to utter things it thought you might want to hear?"
Sarah frowned, thinking back to her conversation with Wiggins, and had to admit that the Goblin King's description was accurate. She shivered with the memory.
"If I had touched his hand..."
"You would have been incorporated into its form. It's how the Boroa survives. And by the looks of the skinny cretin, it hadn't been able to assume a new form for quite awhile. They are rather repugnant little wretches, and most certainly not welcome in my kingdom."
Harmless little creature, indeed, her mind scoffed at her previous conclusions, even if they were probably a side-effect of the horrid thing's enchantment. Yet some ingrained notion of mercy compelled her to ask, "Was it really necessary to kill him?"
The Goblin King waved this aside with an elegant motion of his hand. "Rather than be drawn into an inefficacious debate on the differences of our moral perspectives, I believe proper introductions are in order." He paused and drew in a breath, perhaps for emphasis more than necessity. "I, am the Goblin King, ruler of the Underground and safe-keeper of the gate between realms, but you, may call me Jareth, if it pleases you." At this he extended his hand to her, much in the manner that Wiggins had done, and didn't fail to quirk a brow to mock the obvious associations she would infer.
As expected, she gave him a dubious look, so he couldn't resist adding, "And you already know of course, from your previous battery upon my person, that it's safe to touch me as much as you like."
Sarah didn't pay particular attention to the suggestive words or the charming smile that was offered to her. Instead, she was distracted by taking note, for the first time, of the change to his appearance. Gone was the facade of glacial darkness, shrouded about him like a heavy drape, and in its place was a refined, stately figure, curiously not out-of-place in the midst of a wild forest. Every inch of him still projected his royal lineage, yet now it was patently visible he was a king luxuriating within his own kingdom.
And check out the Mick Jagger fetish with those pants...
Scalded by that train of thought, Sarah's eyes instantly snapped back to his face, which she now realised had beguiling enhancements, making the eyebrows appear to sweep up at an angle from his oddly mis-matched eyes. Unbeknownst to her, those simmering eyes took in every nuance of her expressions, deciphering them as if they were a simple child's riddle.
"It is customary to now offer your own name in return," the man called Jareth prompted her, still with his hand extended expectantly.
Collecting herself, Sarah defiantly raised her chin a few notches. "I think I've learned my lesson about accepting offers of friendship from seemingly harmless men."
He lowered his hand, but his smile morphed into a teasing grin. "I seem harmless to you, do I?"
Of course it would be an utter fallacy to in any way confirm that particular charge, so to mask her error she said, "Well, you're obviously trying to appear that way to me now, aren't you? With all your fancy words and heroically coming to my rescue at just the right time."
"Ah, so you did notice," he said, with genuine pleasure. "It's gratifying to know my efforts at gallantry are not entirely wasted."
"I wouldn't need any rescuing if you hadn't kidnapped me and brought me here in the first place."
"I didn't kidnap you, my dear. You were offered to me and I merely accepted; most others would have done the same." He articulated this point with no more animation than if he were remarking on the weather.
Un-believable. "Or, you could have held up your original bargain and taken Michael instead. What's so impossible with that concept?"
"Not impossible, simply improvident," was the economical reply.
Losing patience arguing, Sarah decided to get straight to her point. "Look, I don't really care what your reasons are for taking me. All I want is for you to send me back where I belong."
The courteous smile faded from his face. "That I cannot do," he said with simple finality.
"Well, I would explain it to you but, alas, it would require an understanding of my reasons for 'kidnapping' you in the first place, and you've already stipulated your lack of interest in that subject." He lifted his shoulders in a delicate shrug, as though the matter was completely out of his hands, but didn't quite manage to hide his smirk.
"Argh! Fine then, tell me. Why did you take me and not Michael?"
The Goblin King regarded her for an extended moment, apparently calculating his next response. "Suffice it to say, you're a special case."
"Oh I'm special, am I?" she replied, her frustration now palpable. "Special enough for you to abandon me in the middle of some forest?"
"You were supposed to stay with the Vaktare. I assigned it the job of watching out for you."
"The what? You can't mean that tree-thing?"
"Indeed, I do."
"How the hell is a tree supposed to protect me? It's pretty much stuck in the one spot, isn't it. A fat lot of good it would do me if I were being chased by some rabid animal trying to eat me. And besides," Sarah fidgeted, suddenly feeling a little ridiculous, "I think it was making fun of me…"
The Goblin King smiled knowingly. Sarah cast her eyes away and missed the manner in which he let his gaze touch upon the pout that her mouth had unconsciously formed. "It is not bound to only one form, my dear; although a tree is its preferred appearance," he explained, turning to pace away from her. "Being as it is magical, and all that, it can use its natural root system to create a network to various sites all over the Underground."
"Like a spy network?"
"Amongst other things," he murmured, leaning against a tree.
"Great. So not only am I trapped in a magical land, which I'm apparently not allowed to leave, you've got this secret agent tree-spirit thingy watching my every move."
"Oh come now," he laughed sharply, "why would I waste the Vaktare's time doing anything as mundane as watching you all the time?"
Sarah had the feeling she ought to retort to this but from the amused expression on her antagonist's face she felt inexplicably like all the wind had been blown out of her sails. She didn't have any reason to think the Goblin King would go to the effort of having her under constant surveillance, did she? And ultimately, did it really matter to her?
With no ready response to give him, the pair lapsed into silence; he remained in his position, lounging regally against the side of a tree, and Sarah, finally coming down from the high of her temper, was unexpectedly struck with a feeling of awkwardness. Perhaps it was due to the quiet, contemplative expression on his face. For all the world, he appeared perfectly content to continue staring at her, waiting to hear whatever she might say next. It was very unnerving for a reason she couldn't quite define.
"Well," she began, trying to sound casual, "I guess you have stuff to do. Being king of the jungle, or whatever."
"And your king now," he pointed out, with a little smile.
That got her attention.
"Woa, woa, woa. Let's get something straight, here. I'm an American. I don't have a king. So if you expect me to start bowing to you or addressing you as 'your majesty' at the end of every sentence, then you can go kidnap yourself another girl, ok?"
"I think I'm set with the one I have. And I've already told you to call me Jareth. It's my given name, you know. Quite the honour, in fact, for you to even be privy to it." There was no mistaking the subtle hint to his tone.
Sarah couldn't keep the incredulous gust of laughter from escaping her throat. "What do you want, a groveling thank you ever-so, you wonderfully magnanimous man, speech?"
"Just your name will suffice in this instance. You still haven't told me." His face maintained a determinedly nonchalant expression.
That's when it occurred to her how much he really wanted to know her name. She remembered reading something about certain magical creatures placing great importance on names. Weren't there supposedly powerful properties to them? Or some kind of influence that could be wielded against the other person?
These were all very rational reasons as to why it would be prudent for Sarah to keep her real name from the Goblin King. However, if she were being truly honest with herself, she mainly derived secret satisfaction out of thwarting him, even if she realised it was a rather petty means of revenge.
"It's Joanne," she said, speaking the first random girl's name that came to mind.
That amused little smile was back on his face. "You're not a very good liar. But that adds to your charm."
"Think of it as a nickname," she said, with an impertinent smirk of her own.
"Aren't nicknames supposed to be supplied by other people?"
"Suffice it say, I'm a special case." It felt good to throw his own irritating words back in his face.
"I'm happy to come up with a few for you, if you like..." was his murmured reply.
"Oh, let me guess, it'll be something like 'minion' or 'peasant' or maybe even 'serf'?"
He openly laughed in response, and Sarah did not allow her brain to acknowledge how much his laughter improved his appearance. In one fluid motion, he pushed off from the tree he had been casually leaning against and moved towards her in unhurried, measured strides. She commanded her body to not give into the impulse to step back; in much the same way as one would refrain from flinching in front of a pernicious predator.
"I can already tell that you're going to be a lot of trouble." He didn't seem upset by this revelation.
"My fifth grade teacher said the same thing," she said quietly, appearing not the least bit intimidated by the fact that there was now only a few inches of space separating them.
"And was your teacher correct in their assessment?" His voice had dropped to the susurrous tone of a whisper.
Determined not to back down, Sarah leaned in another fraction, her eyes boldly fixed to his. "Absolutely." Don't blink don't blink don't blink
The Goblin King's expression transfigured subtly into one of gratification, as though somewhere in the subtext of their exchange he had just satisfied his own private query. He drew in a deep, savouring breath, outwardly giving the impression that he might be about to say something else, but instead, slowly retreated one pace backwards, all the while twinkling his peculiar otherworldly eyes.
"Perhaps then I would be justified in keeping you locked up in my dungeons - for your own benefit, as much as mine." He had reverted to his neutral brand of teasing, shattering whatever moment had just occurred between them.
"Did you say dungeons? Like the kind that come with castles?"
"I don't believe dungeons necessarily require the presence of a castle, although in this particular case my dungeons do happen to have that distinction."
"You live... in a castle?" Sarah tried her best not to sound too excited. "Wait - what am I thinking - of course you live in a castle. After all, we can't have the king roughing it in the woods with the rest of us commoners." She said this swinging her arm around to indicate the surrounding terrain.
He grinned. "If you're angling for an invite to stay with me in my castle, I'm sure I could arrange something..."
"Ha! And enjoy pleasant conversations like this one, every, single, day?" She mocked gasped for effect. "No thank you. I think I'll take my chances with the rabid animals."
"You keep referring to these 'rabid animals', I can assure you that the majority of my subjects are not in any way diseased, or prone to carnivorous intent. And even if they were, they would not eat you."
"What, am I not tasty enough for them?" She inquired sardonically.
He pointedly refrained from comment.
"And why should I take your word for it, anyway?" She continued, blithely disregarding his taciturnity. "You'd probably get a laugh out of watching me get eaten. It could be part of the kingdom's national sport, for all I know. 'Watch the new girl get brutally devoured - free popcorn on offer with every drink purchase'."
"Well, if the word of a king isn't reassuring enough for you, let me put it this way - I am the most dangerous and lethal creature in this realm." This was said with no small amount of gravity; and Sarah, after everything she had seen of him, didn't feel inclined to doubt his word on it. "I am the only one you have to be concerned about; everything else is taken care of."
"So I only have to worry about you wanting to eat me," she joked flippantly, before the double-entendre of her words sunk in. "Uh... I mean, haha, well you know what I mean..."
If he noticed the (Freudian?) slip, he apparently didn't feel the need to comment on it.
"It is important you understand that, while you remain under my protection, no other creature in this kingdom, or any other, has the authority to interfere with you." He spoke these words dispassionately, as though he were merely stating simple facts. "You must try to think of yourself as an honoured resident; no other humans live in my kingdom, so you are a rare, and therefore precious, commodity in the Underground."
Sarah took in this information, but decided it was probably time they addressed more practical matters. "Well, that's nice and everything, but more importantly, how does this 'precious commodity' get herself something to eat? I'm kinda hungry, actually. Being betrayed, drugged, kidnapped, thrown into a magical realm, and almost horrifically copy-catted, can apparently work up an appetite in a gal."
"Not to mention battling wits with a magnificent king."
"Oh no, that was nothing." She tossed back.
He grinned at that, seemingly unfazed by her continued impertinence. "Anything you need will be provided."
She looked down at her feet. "Including some shoes?"
"It will be seen to. We do have shoes in the Underground, you know," he said, delivered with just the right amount of deadpan.
"That's handy. Or, you know, footy." She smiled at her own joke, but from the inscrutable expression on the Goblin King's face, suddenly felt inordinately self-conscious. It amazed her that she had went from physically hitting this beguiling, terrifying man, to exchanging smart-assed banter with him. Nevertheless, it wasn't a comfortable banter; and Sarah still felt disconcerted enough to remain on alert. He was a dangerous man to become comfortable with.
"I should go now," and projected enough of a goodbye in it to clearly convey her intention of leaving.
Before she could turn to go, he remarked helpfully, "If you head in that general direction, you will come upon a rather lovely orchard. Most of the best fruit in the Underground is grown there."
"Thanks, but I'm sure I can manage on my own," she said, instinctively feeling the need to accentuate her independence and not rely too heavily on his assistance.
Sarah then resolutely turned from the Goblin King, to strike forth for herself in this unknown world. She had gone a few paces before she heard his quiet reply from behind her, "I'm sure you will. Farewell... precious."
Oh hell no, if he thinks he's going to start calling me that...
She spun around to affirm as much – only to discover that he had vanished into thin air, leaving her with the curious notion that she may possibly have imagined him altogether.
AN: 'Joanne' is actually the fake name I use if I get approached by a random guy who seems a bit dodgy (although, let's face it, if he looked anything like David Bowie, it probably wouldn't be an issue...)
For any sharp-eyed readers, you might have noticed that Jareth doesn't refer to his kingdom as 'the Labyrinth'. This is deliberate on my part, as I'm planning to have this aspect explained later on...
A wee review would be fabulous of you, darling :)